Articles

On Your Feet, Where You’ll Be Swept Off Your Feet

Michelle Laflamme-Childs - December 6, 2015

Serving shoe-addicted Santa Feans for over 25 years

In 1989, Nina Houle decided to open a shoe store in a tiny 700 square foot space in the Kaune’s Center on Old Pecos Trail. She knew even then that the key to success would be hand picked, high-quality products and excellent customer service. To this day, Nina still owns On Your Feet, and has guided it through its move to the Sanbusco Market Center in 1992, the opening of Get It Together in 1994, and the addition of On Your Little Feet in 2008. All three stores currently occupy 6,000 square-feet in the Sanbusco Market Center and employ 24 people, some of whom have been with the business for over 20 years.

On Your Feet (OYF) is a Santa Fe favorite and is lauded by some as the best shoe store in the world. Nina describes the customer mix as 70% locals and 30% visitors, but is quick to point out that those visitors usually make OYF a required stop every time they come to Santa Fe. The store itself is relatively compact and filled to the brim with stylish yet comfortable, well-made products for women and men. All the best brands are represented; it’s like a candy store for the shoe-addicted Santa Fean (“Hi, my name is Michelle, and I’m a shoe addict…”). Nina thinks her secret weapon for building and nurturing such a successful business for so long is her direct involvement in the day-to-day running of the business, and her passion for her customers and her employees. Judy Salazar, who has been working with OYF for 23 years describes Nina as a “truly amazing business woman and wonderful person,” and goes on to say, “OYF is a family… we laugh together, share our lives with each other, it’s not just about selling great shoes…” Another long-time employee, Helen Archuleta has this to say about working at OYF for the last 19 years, “I love working for Nina… she chooses her staff carefully, she finds the talents within each of us and allows us to share, create, and implement ideas, and from this comes great team-work and customer service!” The staff does not work on commission so they are free to interact with customers in a no-pressure, friendly way, doing their best to make sure you leave having had a positive, if not downright wonderful, shopping experience. Did I mention you’ll love the shoes?

With recent announcements of the New Mexico School for the Arts purchasing the Sanbusco Market Center to renovate and remodel as the new home for the school, there is much speculation about where OYF and its sister stores will go. Nina says she hasn’t started down that road yet, but she wants to assure all her loyal customers that she plans to be “part of the unique Santa Fe retail scene for years to come. For the time being Sanbusco is still our home…we hope all our customers old and new will know that in spite of the pending changes, we will continue to operate as normal.”

So often, we hear that running a successful business is all about cost-savings and efficiencies. The faster you can churn customers or the lower you can pay employees the more likely you are to make a profit, and thus survive in our current, highly-competitive business environment. Nina Houle and her team defy all that. They believe that excellent products, superior customer service, dedication to staff, and a love for what you do make the difference. For them, that is the bottom line.

You can shop at On Your Feet, Get it Together, and On Your Little Feet at the Sanbusco Market Center Monday thru Saturday 10am – 6pm and from 12pm – 5pm on Sundays. Gift certificates are available and make fantastic holiday gifts (speaking from experience)!

All photographs are directly from the On Your Feet inventory and part of their terrific Facebook page you'll find HERE