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‘FEET ARE LIKE SNOWFLAKES’ At Shortt Supply, if a shoe doesn’t fit you don’t wear it

Photo by Dave Leder

Brian Shortt of Shortt Supply, right, works with customer Kenny Kruegel of Pine Grove on finding the perfect fit

for a new pair of shoes.

By DAVE LEDER

Special to the News

July 20, 2005

Shortt Supply owners Brian and Karen Shortt went into business in 2000 without knowing exactly where their new venture would take them. But after a couple years as an all-purpose sporting goods retailer, the Hood River Heights store managers decided to let their feet do the talking. Or better, the Shortts chose to focus their attentions on talking about feet.

“Feet are like snowflakes. Every one is different,” said Brian, who has shifted Shortt Supply’s product selections in the past two years to reflect its changing attitude about shoes and the feet that go in them.

“Feet are the balance of life, and if you’re feet are hurting, chances are, your life is hurting, too.” While its product line still includes a broad assortment of general sporting goods, Shortt Supply has shifted its attentions toward providing front-line footwear that can be used for the Gorge’s many outdoor activities. To demonstrate its ongoing commitment to people’s feet, Shortt Supply goes through a rigorous series of questions and measurements to determine exactly which shoe is right for a particular customer. Brian, Karen and their daughter Kelsey — the three people you are most likely to run into at Shortt Supply — record measurements for heel-to-toe, heel-to-ball, and foot width. Each dimension is taken both weighted and unweighted to ensure that their customers make a sound footwear buying decision.

“It’s more than just saying, ‘I’m a size 10,’” said Brian, an avid outdoor enthusiast who sells shoes for everything from hiking to running, basketball to volleyball. “We are willing to risk a sale if we can educate people about their footwear buying decisions,”

The Shortts ask customers what their intended use will be, and after taking your measurements, they do a custom fitting with and without insoles. They may even suggest a special pair of socks because they believe “people’s feet should feel good all the time.” With that in mind, Shortt Supply has narrowed its footwear product line to eight primary brands: New Balance, Asics, Salomon, Brooks, Montrail, Asolo, Mizuno, and Garmont.

The Shortts are also big proponents of Superfeet insoles because of their unmatched comfort and arch support. “At first, our mission was to become the best footwear store in Hood River,” Brian said.

“Now, we want to become the best footwear store in the entire Gorge. I really think we have taken a step in the right direction.” No pun intended.

To further their commitment to people’s feet, the Shortts have partnered with a variety of medical professionals including podiatrists John Belknap and Dana Alumbaugh, and physical therapists Tom Moline and Bret Paulus.

Tom and Robin Merriam of Merriam Prosthetics and Orthotics have also gotten involved to help educate people about how important the right shoe is to a person’s quality of life.

“The people in the medical community understand what we’re trying to do,” Brian said, “and their help has been invaluable. They have been instrumental in our education about the need for quality footwear.” Just as the Shortts have been instrumental in making many feet happy throughout the Gorge.

If you need more information, call Shortt Supply at 386-5474 or visit them at 1414 12th St. in the Heights.

*****

Dave Leder is the former sports editor at the Hood River News. He swears by his new pair of Asics, which he had custom-fitted by Brian Shortt before moving to Roseburg in May.

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