EEEEEE! Edmonds shoe store only sells wide shoes
EDMONDS — Bigfoot could do all his shoe shopping here.
What’s up with that?
Wide Shoes Only owner Dominic Ahn could outfit Sasquatch with a comfortable and functional hiking boot. And a dress shoe, and maybe sandals and dancing shoes.
But above all, Ahn is suitable for people with wide feet who are looking for comfort and fashion. The store offers over 600 styles for men and women.
Bigfoot aside, this is serious business.
The average-footed masses have shoe stores galore for shopping. Most retailers that sell wide only go so wide.
At this Edmonds store, the shoes aren’t just wide, they’re extra wide. And extra-extra-extra-extra-extra-extra large. Or 6E for short.
“I have access to 8Es,” Ahn said.
The store offers sizes 7 to 18 for men and 5 to 13 for women. For women, single wide is a D or W. Double wide is EE or WW, up to 4E. Men’s wide start to WW.
Prices are from $75 to $240. Bedroom slippers are $35.
The shoes are the same styles as mainstream stores. Brands include Red Wing, Hush Puppies, Brooks, SAS, Dansko and New Balance.
Others are Zeba, slip-on sneakers and David Tate, made in Italy.
“Usually Italian shoes aren’t very wide,” Ahn said.
The Zeba are lace-up shoes, but people with back problems can slip their feet into them without bending over, he said.
Genetics plays a role in shoe shape, as does aging and medical conditions, such as diabetes, swollen feet and arthritis. Many customers work in schools, hospitals, factories, stores and other places that keep them on their feet for long hours.
Ahn’s parents worked in the shoemaking business and served a number of customers wishing to stretch their shoes. They opened the first Wide Shoes Only store in Shoreline in 1980 and moved to the Edmonds site in 1997.
Ahn, 53, didn’t immediately follow in his parents’ footsteps. After college, he worked in the tech industry in California. He opened a Wide Shoes Only store in Bellevue in 2007 and moved the store to Renton in 2012. He took over the Edmonds store when his parents retired and runs both stores.
No one in the family has wide feet.
“I can’t choose shoes for myself here,” he said.
Nothing here could have suited the tallest man in the world, Robert Wadlow, that nearly 9ft tall guy you see at all the Guinness World Records shows. He wore 37AA shoes on his extra narrow 18½ inch feet.
Ahn said the pandemic has affected sales and supply.
“It’s starting to get better,” he said. “A lot of shoes are not made in China. Others are made in Vietnam now.
Buying shoes isn’t just about size and width. The shape of the shoe is important.
“A lot of people don’t realize that shoes are like jeans,” Ahn said. “Blue jeans come in so many different shapes and even when they’re the same size, they fit completely differently. The shapes of the shoes resemble jeans, from skinny jeans to baggy jeans. There are lots of extra wide skinny and lots of extra wide baggy.
Example: A tapered athletic shoe size 9EE is different than a 9EE with a high instep and wide toe.
The store also has wide arches and insoles.
“We have to wear loose socks,” he said.
Wide shoe shoppers have many options on the internet. Ahn’s stores do not offer online or Amazon sales.
Shellie Black only buys shoes she can try on.
“I had a lot of trouble with my feet,” said Black, a size 7½ double wide with bunions and nerve pain.
Comfort is key on his daily 3-5 mile walks. In winter, it is leather sports shoes that look “ugly as going out”.
Ahn’s store has a lot of cute shoes she can wear, but not the heeled ones she had chosen for a wedding.
“I wanted those red shoes to match my dress,” she said.
After trying them, Ahn advised against it.
“He said, ‘You can buy them, but they’re going to hurt your feet,'” Black said. “He was right. My feet were hurting at the end of the wedding. Dominic knows feet.
The Edmonds store is located at 7621 Lake Ballinger Way, next to the Chevron station.
The space housed a medium before Ahn’s parents purchased it.
Like palm readings, there are people who do “foot readings” based on the lines of the soles of the feet or the shape of the toes. Theories abound: Those with all toes the same length are patient, reliable, and honest. A big second toe signifies leadership. If your toes are widely spaced, you have a touch of wanderlust.
Ahn prefers to measure feet using professional shoe measuring devices.
And if he predicts that a shoe will hurt, you might want to listen to him.