It's easy to find a place to buy a pair of shoes. But finding somewhere that will make sure you get the right fit, and then take care of that shoe down the road, is a lot harder. One store in downtown Bismarck has been doing that for four generations. Jim Christianson takes a look at Gartner's Capital Shoe Hospital in this week's Inside Business.
Gartner's Capital Shoe Hospital just celebrated its 90th birthday. That's just two years older than the man who took over this family run business more than 50 years ago.
"I'm proud because it happened," says Ernie Gartner.
Ernie's father the business in 1922. After two decades of running the business, Ernie says it was time for him to hand the business over to his son, Mark.
"Been tapering it off. It's time," says Ernie.
Mark took over in 1985, and while Ernie still shows up for work every day, it's Mark who is guiding the store through the latest business boom in an industry with less and less competition.
"I love talking to people. I just love fixing the things that I'm fixing. Nobody else wants to do it, I'm good with that," says Mark.
He says after solely sticking to repairing shoes, expanding into shoe retail was a natural fit.
"Who would be better for fit and orthotic value than somebody who works with it," says Mark.
While orthotic shoes now make up about 40-percent of the business, shoe repair is still a major part. And it's getting bigger, as people begin looking at more economical ways to fix their footwear. Since a new pair of work boots can cost in excess of $200, Mark says a lot of his customers are coming in and having their boots repaired or resoled so they can get a few more miles out of them.
"They pay $250-$300 for a pair of boots, I can do this and for a smaller amount of money I have a new pair of boots," says Mark.
He says he enjoys helping customers find the perfect fit, but he's also looking at what the perfect fit is for the future of the business. That's where Mark's son Jake comes into play. He's already got his foot in the door and is interested in taking over as well someday, and that makes his granddad proud.
"We've been fortunate," says Ernie.
While the way shoes are made has changed a lot from when Gartner's Shoe Hospital first opened, much of the repair equipment and techniques are the same. Mark says if they can't fix something by hand, it won't get done.
Sunday, March 9 2014 8:57 AM EDT2014-03-09 12:57:59 GMT
The Class B Boys season wrapped up the state tournament tonight in Grand Forks. Fargo Oak Groves defeated Rugby 68 to 58 in overtime fashion. North Star defeated the Lions from Linton-HMB 60 to 49 in the
The Class B Boys season wrapped up the state tournament tonight in Grand Forks.
Sunday, March 9 2014 8:54 AM EDT2014-03-09 12:54:06 GMT
The Century Patriots took home 1st place overall in the Swim and Dive State event finishing with 349 points. Followed by Minot with 323 points. North Fargo took home 3rd place overall at 297 points. West
The Century Patriots took home 1st place overall in the Swim and Dive State event finishing with 349 points.
Sunday, March 9 2014 8:50 AM EDT2014-03-09 12:50:18 GMT
The West Region Class A boys and girls basketball season concluded play today, and the state qualifiers are set. On the girls side Bismarck High won the tournament with a 64 to 61 win over Century. Both
The West Region Class A boys and girls basketball season concluded play today, and the state qualifiers are set.
Sunday, March 9 2014 8:48 AM EDT2014-03-09 12:48:30 GMT
Chair-lifts were packed and tube runs were full, as hundreds of families enjoyed a day at the Bottineau Winter Park. But Saturday was no ordinary day in the Turtle Mountains. It's was the grand opening
Saturday was no ordinary day in the Turtle Mountains. It's was the grand opening of Annie's House, a new ski-lodge and adaptive center.