Published August 2, 2017
Little Feet Co-Owner Beth Palent-Saper knows the ins and outs of putting shoes on precious feet–it’s a family tradition to provide fit expertise starting with beginning walkers through elementary schoolers. We talked with her about getting the right fit in kids’ shoes and how Little Feet has been active in the Cherry Creek North community and beyond for over 24 years.
I understand selling shoes is in your DNA. Your father had a shoe store in Miami?
Yes, he owned Little Feet in Miami for 26 years. Prior to that, he was a partner in a store in New Jersey that had all genders, women, men and kids.
When did you decide to get in the business?
In 1993, both my husband and I decided to change careers, and we went down to learn the business from my father. We then came back to Denver and opened up Little Feet. We wanted to focus on children, specifically, so we could engage more in the community. We chose to locate in Cherry Creek North 24 years ago when we were walking around and saw all the families. Now we’re fitting a lot of second generation, so a lot of the kids who came to me are now coming to me with their babies. That’s really wonderful.
What is the general rule of thumb about how often a parent should have their child’s feet measured?
For babies, we like to fit about a half-size growing room every three months until they are about three years old. And then as they get a little older, it’s every four or five months. By the time they are five or six years old, you should get six to eight months out of their shoes.
You made a very deliberate decision not to sell online. Why?
Unfortunately, nothing is standardized in the industry as far as sizes. A size 7 can vary within the same brand, depending on the type of the shoe. The other thing is that there aren’t a lot of width sizing for kids, but there are a lot of shoes that run narrower, or wider. Fit is very important for kids’ feet in terms of getting the right width and length. We know our brands and that makes it easy to fit in-person.
Do you also assist with orthotics and other special needs kids might have?
We do. We don’t prescribe, but if they came in asking for more support, or the doctor told them to get an over-the-counter orthotic, we can help. We have shoes with graduated versions of support. We also have little arches we can glue in and they provide added support. We also sell an over-the-counter orthotic called Little Steps that they can buy and put in any shoe. We also know what shoes work with prescription orthotics and braces.
How do you know if your child is flat footed or has an arch?
Kids typically develop an arch between the ages of three and five. Prior to that, however, most baby shoes do not have any arch because there is just a little fat pad there. In those cases, you don’t want to provide “supports” because you want them to develop their own muscles.
Little Feet is also involved in a variety of philanthropic causes. For example, what is Soles4Souls?
They are a national organization, headquartered in Tennessee. They take used shoes and donate them all over the world to wherever they are needed. They started in Haiti, but are all over the world now. We run shoe drives for them.
In addition to Soles4Souls, I donate to Clothes for Kids after each of my major sales. They are a local organization that gives to Denver Public Schools. Low income families can come in and shop with them for free, once a year. I also always give gift certificates to school auctions.
You also hold a variety of free events for kids and families?
Every other month, we do a shoe tying class that people can sign up for. We take no more than seven or eight kids per class. There is no fee, and it’s usually on a Saturday morning at 9 before the store opens. We also do special trunk shows with our vendors, or things for the community like coloring pages kids can do for the patients at Children’s Hospital. All of our events are on our website, LittleFeetDenver.com. You can also sign up to be on our mailing list so you can find out about special promotions.