Where We Came From
In November of 1976, Ralph Baker, my dad, leased a small, rat-infested building on South Main Street in Salisbury. He worked day and night cleaning and refurbishing "the worst location in town" into a very nice but small shoe store. I was only 8 years old at the time but I do remember how proud we all were at how nice and new this previously run-down building looked. My biggest concern at the time was that we were leaving the Walkers of Walkers Rowan Shoes where my dad had worked my whole life. The Walkers were like grandparents to me and while I hate to admit it, facts are facts, and I was a little concerned about the lack of Christmas presents from the Walkers that year. Of course, what I had no concept of at that time was the extreme risk my dad took in opening his own store. He didn't come from money, he was a high school graduate with 4 years of service in the Air Force. He worked as a sales associate in a family shoe store and my mom worked in an orthodontist's office. They built a nice home for our family which was modest by today's standards but to me it was the nicest house anywhere. Dad borrowed all the money he could against the house to buy inventory to stock his new store, literally risking everything he and my mom had. With one employee he opened the doors...in a town that already had 6 shoe stores in as many blocks downtown.
The only explanation for his success is his love of working with people, hard work, and the grace of God. In 1979 he opened his second store in Lexington. During the 80's he opened locations in Albemarle, Hickory, High Point, and Boone. At one point he had 10 locations opened including a 50,000 square foot location in Salisbury in the Empire Hotel that we unbelievably filled full.
At the tender age of 12, I was yanked away from my Saturday morning cartoons, forced to wear a tie, and started working in the shoe store. This continued after school and weekends all the way through college. After graduating from Catawba College, I decided to stay in the shoe business with my dad. My sister, 10 years my junior, followed the exact same path, graduating from Catawba, then she got out while the gettin' was good! She now owns her own medical billing service.
Through the years we've seen many changes in the shoe business. We rode a huge wave of success with Nike in the 80's but, as a family shoe store, we changed direction in the 90's and scaled down to our one original shoe store. I went back to school to become a pedorthist and have now been working for over 20 years taking care of foot problems ranging from plantar fasciitis to amputations by means of custom orthotics or shoe modifications.
In 2009 we bought the building at our current location, 428 North Main Street in downtown Salisbury. Our focus has evolved to provide foot comfort by way of the best working, walking, running, casual, and dress shoes available. Our staff is charged with evaluating your feet and finding the perfect fit for you.
As it was in 1976, our secret sauce is giving good, courteous service and making sure you have a good experience and enjoy coming back to see us.