Sneakers and slip-ons: how Comfort One Shoes adapted to the pandemic | ALX now


Faced with a drastic disruption to foot traffic, Alexandria-based Comfort One Shoes had to pivot. The pandemic has forced the company to focus its energy on online sales, bringing in more casual merchandise and shutting down the Union Station location in DC

Company chairman Garrett Breton said the efforts allowed 2021 sales to surpass those of the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

“The Old Town locations (200 and 201 King Street) are on fire right now,” Breton told ALXnow. “People want to go out and do stuff. They want to see their friends, and they need new shoes, because if you try to put on your old dress shoes and go to the office, even if it’s one day a week, you’re pretty miserable.

Comfort One Shoes sells brands such as Mephisto, Beautifeel, Ecco and Dansko around the world through its 14 locations in Maryland, Virginia and Washington. things.

“Prior to entering the pandemic, Dupont Circle was our number one volume store,” Breton said. “It won’t be for a very long time, maybe never again. It is based on downtown suburban traffic. People have to walk from the metro to their work. I don’t know when the officers are coming back. It’s like that.”

Breton became president in January 2020 following the retirement of his father, Maurice, who opened the first Comfort One at 201 King Street almost 30 years ago. A longtime Alexandrian and a 1998 graduate of Bishop Ireton High School, the young Breton says that at the start of the pandemic he was challenged to temporarily lay off the staff he had known for most of his life. . The company employs just under 100 people and all of its stores closed between one and four months in 2020.

During these first months of the pandemic, Breton said, the focus has been on internet sales and it is expected to shift from buying dress shoes to casual shoes and sneakers.

“E-commerce has grown by around 40% at the end of this crazy year (2020), and last September we exceeded 2019 numbers,” Breton said. “It’s with tons and tons of athletic shoes, and it wasn’t even part of our business 10 years ago. No one is buying dress shoes at the moment. We sell a lot of athletic shoes and a lot more slippers – shoes that you just have to slip on to quickly run out.

Via Comfort One / Facebook

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