Bossier City Abana shoe store helps people in need

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Following a path of faith in the business world led two women to their vocation to help those in need.

For business partners Shirmodda Robinson and Cynthia Matthews, co-owners of Abana Shoes in Bossier City, doing business isn’t enough to make a profit.

“It’s been over 20 years for us,” said Matthews, sitting next to Robinson on a bench inside their store. “It was a vision God gave us in 2004 and we have since launched our own brand. “

Matthews and Robinson met as managers while working at a Foot Locker store in Shreveport. Their meeting with four young boys while working at the store is the reason they continue to give back. The story goes that four young boys walked into the store asking to try on shoes.

Shirmodda Robinson, left, and Cynthia Matthews are the owner of Abana Shoes.  For every pair of shoes purchased, a portion of the proceeds helps Abana Shoes donate a pair of shoes to a child / family in need.

Working from the perspective of the important treatment of every customer, regardless of age, Robinson placed every pair of shoes behind the counter after the group decided not to buy them. After walking away and coming back, Robinson saw that all but one of the shoes and boys were missing.

Quickly realizing that the youngster had taken the shoes, Robinson gave the remaining child an ultimatum telling her that if the shoes were returned, she would not call the police. When the shoes were returned, Robinson explained to whoever brought them back, why he shouldn’t steal. Turns out the group took the shoes off to avoid being bullied and teased by neighborhood kids because they couldn’t afford the latest style of shoes.

That same day – and not that she was rewarding the wrong that had been done – Robinson, who grew up in a single parent family, understood how the boys felt and bought them a new pair of shoes out of his own pocket.

And now, giving back to those in need is part of the store’s mission.

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Matthews grew up poor and could understand that children did not have what other children did.

“I grew up poor in Alabama with four other siblings, but one thing we had was love, which kept us together and made me want to do what I do now,” said Matthews. “My heart goes out to anyone who is in pain or in need. Either way that you can help someone, whether it’s financially or with a smile or a hug, just reach out and show them someone cares.

Inside Abana Shoes, for every pair of shoes purchased, a portion of the proceeds helps Abana Shoes donate a pair of shoes to a child / family in need.

The pair continued to offer shoes until the demand became too great.

“That’s when we asked God to provide us with a way to bring finances and that’s when he gave us the idea to start designing our own shoes. “, explained Matthews.

Matthews and Robinson have been through a lot but have persevered to where they are today. Robinson suffered a serious car accident and Matthews had an abusive relationship for 13 years.

Inside Abana Shoes, for every pair of shoes purchased, a portion of the proceeds helps Abana Shoes donate a pair of shoes to a child / family in need.

The goal of giving back was reaffirmed through a Robinson’s dream where she found herself on top of a mountain handing out shoes to a line of people stretching out in a valley.

“It’s kind of like an amazing trip,” said Robinson.

How does it work now?

“The way we did our shoe giveaways, we had to rearrange some things because we were coming off the end of the stick,” Matthews said. “Our shoes are sold at such a low price that we don’t really make a profit. So now if teachers come and people come to the store and ask for our help with giving a gift, we kind of put a plan in place where it doesn’t fall to one side and we make it happen.

For example, a roofing company asked its employees to go to the store to buy shoes. Abana matched what they bought.

Inside Abana Shoes, for every pair of shoes purchased, a portion of the proceeds helps Abana Shoes donate a pair of shoes to a child / family in need.

So the way it’s done now is through matches, revenue, and partnerships with local schools and businesses.

For each pair of shoes purchased, a portion of the proceeds will help Abana Shoes donate a pair of shoes to a child or family in need.

They have been at 2934 E. Texas St., located in Bossier City for five years now. Upon entering, you are immediately greeted by a colorful display of sneakers and t-shirts lining the walls.

Abana also designs and sells sneakers for children.

Why continue the restitution mission?

“I think it’s ingrained,” Robinson said. “The way things have manifested and evolved … it’s a calling.”

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