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Shoe store owners transform old theater in Florence.

Byline: RETAIL NOTEBOOK By Joe Mosley The Register-Guard

FLORENCE - Forget the smell of the sea. That's change in the air.

To wit: A theater is now a shoe store, and an office supply shop has become a dollar store.

Sadie Walters has taken the helm at the old Harper Theater building, on Bay Street in Florence's Old Town. Her parents, JeriLynn and Randy Walters, bought the building early this year and have remodeled it to create a full-line shoe store, On Your Feet Footwear.

"It was a movie theater since 1938, so we were all very sad to see it go," says Sadie Walters, who is running the new store with help from her sister Ashley. "But it hadn't been an active movie theater for about a year.

"So we remodeled but kept the outside of it like a theater, and we even light up the neon every night. We have a whole historical section in our store. We've really embraced inheriting such a wonderful building."

The family got its footwear start in Weaverville, Calif. - between Redding and Eureka - where they still own an On Your Feet store. A second store - operated by Sadie's sister Harmony - opened a year ago in Brookings.

The new Florence store offers about 3,500 square feet of retail and stockroom space.

"There was nowhere else (in Florence) to get shoes," Walters says. "You had to go all the way into Eugene."

The store stocks 50 lines of name-brand shoes, from SAS and Ecco to Merill, New Balance and Harley-Davidson.

It also features customer service, Walters says, with prices guaranteed as low as anywhere else and a hands-on approach to helping shoe buyers.

On Your Feet even caters to the hard-to-fit, with women's sizes from 4 1/2 to 13 and men's from 7 to 15.

"Full-service shoe stores just seem to be like a thing of the past," Walters says. "But there's no sense investing in a good pair of shoes if they don't fit you right."

The store - operated by Walters, her sister and three employees - also stocks purses, hats, socks and other accessories.

Down the street is another addition to the business landscape of Florence - the Oregon $1 Store, whose owners completed the purchase last month of a former office supply store at 1565 Highway 101.

Laurie Hathaway and her sister, Barbara Colborn, opened their store in December 2000 in a 1,200-square-foot storefront. But Hathaway says business has doubled since she and her sister made the move into their new 5,000-square-foot building last year and then bought the building last month.

"We probably have $80,000 worth of merchandise on the floor, and that's our (wholesale) price," Hathaway says.

"We pretty much have everything. We have gifts, flowers, candles, health and beauty supplies, automotive, crafts ... And we do have an area of about 1,000 square feet where we have our `Big Spenders Boutique,' where everything costs over a dollar. Everything else is just a dollar."

Since its move, Oregon $1 Store has added one full-time and two part-time employees to help Hathaway and Colborn. The dollar store property includes another pair of buildings, one of which is leased by an existing fishing lure company and another that will become home to a new, Thursdays-only produce market.

Contact Joe Mosley at 338-2384 or
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 8, 2004
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