Tracy Bennett Reveals What Makes a Great Walking Shoe
Health experts often recommend taking 10,000 steps per day. In a place like the Roaring Fork Valley, where a vigorous level of activity is central to our mountain lifestyle, many locals easily surpass that number on a daily basis. Whether walking the neighborhood, strolling the bike path with friends or hitting the town after work, quality footwear is an important element of protection for our very active feet.
Tracy Bennett, owner of Midland Shoe in downtown Basalt, knows this aspect of valley life well. A proud resident since 1980, she opened her shoe shop in 1993 with the goal of providing comfortable, fashionable shoes for active locals. Athletic sneakers, heavy-duty hiking boots, and high-end heels are available elsewhere, so Midland Shoe has spent the past 24 years providing what Bennett calls “everyday urban shoes” for a variety of high country occasions throughout the day. Bennett recently shared her expertise with Roaring Fork Lifestyle, offering tips on what to look for in a great walking shoe.
Lifestyle: How should a walking shoe fit and feel?
Bennett: A great walking shoe has great arch support and plenty of toe room and padding. Look for an insole with a deep heel cup, as that will cradle your heel and help prevent your foot from rolling in or out (pronation: rolling in, supination: rolling out). One of our top walking shoe brands is Arcopedico, which makes colorful knit sneakers (shown at left). They have great arch support, are lightweight for traveling, and the knit fabric won’t rub, pinch, or put pressure on bunions or hammer toes. They also come in a great selection of colors.
Lifestyle: In your opinion, can a walking shoe be fashionable?
Bennett: Probably one of the most exciting things in the shoe industry these days is the consumer demand for both comfort and fashion. Comfortable shoes do not have to look like the orthopedic shoes of yesterday. There are hundreds of shoe companies heeding the call for “fashion, please!” from the masses. I have spent 24 years searching for and buying footwear that focuses on fashion and comfort for our Colorado mountain lifestyle. If a brand can’t deliver these essentials, then it doesn’t make the cut for many seasons in my store.
Lifestyle: Do different price points mean different levels of quality?
Bennett: Comfort and quality do come at a price. If you need sturdy, comfortable work or travel shoes or boots you have to be willing to make a bit of an investment. Expect to pay $75 to $200 for a pair of shoes and $175 to $300 for a pair of boots. I try to keep prices somewhere in the middle of those ranges.
Lifestyle: What are the benefits of visiting a brick-and-mortar shop like Midland Shoe, rather than purchasing online?
Bennett: All shoes fit differently and there is no universal shoe last (the form upon which shoes are made). You may have a favorite company, but I guarantee each skew (style) will have its own unique fit. Maybe the insole isn’t right for your foot; we can help you pick a better insole from the styles we sell. You need to try it on and walk around before committing to buy. And once you find the shoe you love, you get instant gratification. You get to walk out the door without waiting for your anticipated delivery.
Plus, the dollars you spend locally stay local: from paying local employees to donating to local causes such as schools, hospice, local animal shelters or Lift-Up. Those are just some of the great organizations I have supported. The last great reason to buy local, the most important reason, is that we can give you great customer service. We help guide you to the perfect shoe. We sometimes spend hours with customers trying on styles, changing out insoles. We are here for our customers. We have a combined 75 years of retail expertise amongst employees at Midland Shoe, and we are thankful to the Roaring Fork Valley for decades of support. We hope to serve the valley for many years to come.