Inside Business: Gartner's Capital Shoe Hospital - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Inside Business: Gartner's Capital Shoe Hospital

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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.

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