EDMONDS — Bigfoot could do all his shoe shopping here.
What’s up with that?
Wide Shoes Only owner Dominic Ahn could fit Sasquatch with a hiking boot that’s comfortable and functional. And a dress shoe, and maybe some sandals and dancing shoes.
Mostly though, Ahn fits people with wide feet seeking comfort and fashion. The store has over 600 styles for men and women.
Bigfoot aside, this is serious business.
The medium-footed masses have shoe stores galore for shopping. Most retailers that carry wide only go so wide.
At this Edmonds store, shoes are not only wide, they are extra wide. And extra-extra-extra-extra-extra-extra wide. Or 6E for short.
“I have access to 8Es,” Ahn said.
The store has sizes 7 to 18 for men and 5 to 13 for women. For women, single wide is a D or W. Double wide is EE or WW, up to 4E. Men’s wide start at WW.
Prices are $75 to $240. Bedroom slippers are $35.
Shoes are the same styles as mainstream stores. Brands include Red Wing, Hush Puppies, Brooks, SAS, Dansko and New Balance.
Others are Zeba, slip-on athletic shoes, and David Tate, made in Italy.
“Usually Italian shoes aren’t very wide,” Ahn said.
Zeba are laced shoes, but people with back problems can slide their feet in without bending over, he said.
Genetics factor into shoe shape, as do aging and medical issues, such as diabetes, swollen feet and arthritis. Many customers work in schools, hospitals, factories, stores and other places that keep them on their feet for long hours.
Ahn’s parents were in the shoe repair business and served a number of customers wanting shoes stretched. They opened the first Wide Shoes Only store in Shoreline in 1980 and relocated to the Edmonds site in 1997.
Ahn, 53, didn’t follow in his parents’ footsteps right away. After college, he worked in the tech industry in California. He opened a Wide Shoes Only store in Bellevue in 2007 and moved the store to Renton in 2012. He took over the Edmonds store when his parents retired and runs both locations.
Nobody in the family has wide feet.
“I can’t pick out shoes for myself here,” he said.
Nothing here would have fit the world’s tallest man, Robert Wadlow, that nearly 9-foot guy you see at all the Guinness World Records exhibits. He wore 37AA shoes on his 18½-inch extra-narrow feet.
Ahn said the pandemic affected sales and supply.
“It’s starting to get better,” he said. “A lot of shoes aren’t made in China. More are made in Vietnam now.”
Buying shoes is not all about size and width. Shoe shape is important.
“A lot of people don’t realize that shoes are like jeans,” Ahn said. “Blue jeans come in so many different shapes and even when they are the same size they fit completely differently. The shapes of shoes are like jeans, skinny jeans all the way to baggy jeans. There’s a lot of skinny extra wide and a lot of baggy extra wide.”
Example: A size 9EE tapered athletic shoe is a different fit than a 9EE with a high instep and broad toe.
The store also has wide arches and insoles.
“We have to carry wide socks,” he said.
Wide shoe shoppers have numerous options on the internet. Ahn’s stores do not offer online or Amazon sales.
Shellie Black only buys shoes she can try on.
“I’ve had a lot of problems with my feet,” said Black, a size 7½ double wide with bunions and nerve pain.
Comfort is key on her 3- to 5-mile daily walks. In the winter, it’s leather athletic shoes that look “ugly as get out.”
Ahn’s store has plenty of pretty shoes she can wear, but not the heeled ones she once picked for a wedding.
“I wanted these red shoes that matched my dress,” she said.
After trying them on, Ahn advised against it.
“He said, ‘You can buy them, but they’re going to hurt your feet,’” Black said. “He was right. My feet were in pain by the end of the wedding. Dominic knows feet.”
The Edmonds store is at 7621 Lake Ballinger Way, next to the Chevron station.
The space housed a psychic before Ahn’s parents bought it.
Like palm readings, there are people who do “foot readings” based on the lines in your soles or toe shape. Theories abound: Those with toes all the same length are patient, reliable and honest. A big second toe signifies leadership. If your toes are widely spaced you have a touch of wanderlust.
Ahn prefers to do foot readings using professional shoe-measuring devices.
And if he predicts a shoe will hurt, you might want to listen to him.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; email@example.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.
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