A famous shoe store changes hands

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SEQUIM — Before being in a relationship, they were clients and company directors.

Now Jon and Donna Harrison are charting a new path together in retirement.

Harrison’s Comfort Footwear, at 609 W. Washington St., Sequim — a regular stop for many locals for various forms of footwear, orthotics, and friendly conversation over the past 20-plus years — is under new ownership.

The Harrisons sold to Beck’s Shoes, a California-based store. The fifth-generation company, originally from Denmark, has stores in California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington State.

“They guard our crew; it meant the world to us,” Jon said from the back office of the downtown shoe store.

“We looked for… a quality store [to sell to], a sit-and-fit. You don’t see that anymore.

Since 1984, Harrison has owned and operated at least one independent shoe store after 11 years at Nordstrom in Seattle, with the Sequim operation, his fifth, opening in 2001.

He opened a branch of Harrison’s Comfort Footwear in 2004 before handing over the reins to his son Chris. Earlier this year, Beck’s bought the Poulsbo store and quickly became interested in the Sequim market.

“[We weren’t] was going to leave the store unless someone bought it and kept the employees,” Donna said.

Staff will remain the same, the Harrisons noted, including manager Kevin Breckenridge.

“The best manager we’ve ever had in five stores,” Jon said of Breckenridge.

Adam Back, CEO of Beck’s Shoes, said he had a conversation with Jon and Donna shortly after speaking with Chris Harrison and was able to work out a deal.

“We serve many small communities through the [region]said Beck late last week.

“I’m more of a small-town guy, although I have businesses in bigger markets. I grew up in a small town — Boulder Creek, California — and I’ve always loved those small communities.

Beck said his company would do more interior branding before changing the store’s name, usually 12 to 18 months after the change, because “we want to make sure consumers have a chance to get to know us.”

Beck said the Poulsbo branch of Harrison’s had achieved success in a short time.

“Our whole business model is to roll out a red carpet to every customer that walks in,” Beck said. “I’m super excited about Sequim.”

Regarding product changes, Beck said that with his contacts, including many overseas purchases, Sequim customers could see up to 20-30 additional brand names and hundreds of additional styles. .

“It’s quite exciting; I have many connections… [that will] really give this population a much wider selection of brand names and good prices [and] a really solid selection of brands they’ve heard of,” he said.

It was time to call it a career, said Jon, who recently turned 80.

“He still acts like he’s 12,” Donna joked.

“I’m blessed, honestly; every day is an adventure,” Jon said.

Harrison’s shoes and orthotics have gone on everyone from construction workers to politicians to local golf pros, professional basketball players, mountain climbers and even a customer allergic to the glue used in shoe construction.

The referrals started coming in nearly a year after he opened his boutique in Seattle, he said, following a partnership with Dr. Martin Mankey. Jon said Mankey consulted him to help people with soft tissue issues.

Harrison became a part-time staff member at various medical institutions, including the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center, under foot and ankle doctors. In 1987, longtime coach Frank Furtado of the Seattle SuperSonics approached Harrison for help with their 7-foot center suffering from plantar fasciitis, which led to Harrison making player orthotics until 2003. .

One of his designs included a steel tumble bar to help players shorten their stride and make them run faster and helps reduce pressure on the lower back, knees and ankles.

Harrison’s Comfort Shoes opened in Sequim in 2001, with Jon splitting his time between Sequim and Seattle.

“As I got older, I always wanted to do what I do, but I knew I didn’t want to do 900 [orthotics] a year,” Jon said in a previous interview.

In 2003, he sold his Seattle store to his friend Andy Duval, but shortly after opened another store in Poulsbo. This ultimately went to his son Chris.

Donna said she suffered from significant hip pain, the kind that would burst on the stairs or even toss and turn in bed, before finding the cure from an unexpected source. Her parents had received orthotics from a Sequim shoe specialist and they urged her to visit Harrison.

“They said, ‘Jon will fix you!’ Donna recalls.

Jon saw the problem right away; all she needed for less hip and knee pain was the right pair of shoes to keep her level.

“The pain disappeared instantly,” Donna said.

After several years of being his client, she said, “I had to marry him. I had no choice.”

It’s something both Harrisons will miss: Like Donna’s revelation, the couple enjoy seeing people walk into the store looking for solutions to their foot problems and often leave without pain.

For the past few years, Donna has spearheaded Ladies Day, a promotion she has run in conjunction with neighboring businesses with great success. He then moved on to an anniversary sale as a way to help eliminate inventory.

The Harrisons aren’t going anywhere — “We love the community, we love the people,” Jon said — but it’s time to let others handle running the business full-time.

“I never took a day off, mentally. People were coming and I wanted to do my best,” Jon said. “I think I’m going to have to adapt to that.”

The Harrisons said they will remain active, likely finding activities to do with their non-denominational Gardiner Community church. Donna, who said she loves to cook, has found serving food a way to nurture her soul and the souls of others.

“We don’t know what God has planned for us,” she says.

“There’s always something, though,” Jon noted.

“That,” Donna said of their impending retirement, “will give us time to figure out what our next mission is.”

The Harrisons said they would like to hear from their clients over the years. Contact them at [email protected].

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Olympic Peninsula News Group’s Sequim Gazette, which is also made up of other newspapers Sound Publishing Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Join it at [email protected].


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