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New Balance Chattanooga offers foot comfort, style

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
New Balance Chattanooga store manager Brandon Blair helps a customer find the perfect shoe.
New Balance Chattanooga store manager Brandon Blair helps a customer find the perfect shoe.

New Balance Chattanooga shoe store owner Hal Kearney doesn’t recommend wearing flip-flops in the summer, and he’s got plenty of comfortable alternatives.

The board-certified pedorthist says most referring doctors — an important part of his business — have light mesh running shoes in mind for their patients, which can be very cool in hot weather. Kearney’s store is offering new brands this summer for women in particular, like Aravon, a dress-casual brand for women that’s part of the New Balance brand.

“It’s a brand that expands our selection,” Kearney said. He said athletic shoes make up 90 percent of the store’s inventory, and Aravon adds a feminine shoe that’s also therapeutic and caters to women with hard-to-fit feet.

The Dunham brand, made by a 100-year-old company recently bought by New Balance, offers men a business-casual shoe with the same cushioning and support

technology of an athletic shoe. Its 6E, double-x-wide size is “unheard of in this industry,” Kearney said, and since he has so many broad-soled customers year-round anyway, offering the Dunham shoe only made sense.

  • photo
    The Aravon line of women’s footwear, including this Freya model, blends comfort and style.

Made-in-America fans can turn to Kearney for New Balance’s new 1290 shoe coming out at the end of the summer. The lightweight performance running shoe is 100 percent American-made, and it’s not going to be sold just anywhere.

“Hardly anybody’s going to be able to carry it,” Kearney said. It won’t be available online and it’s for high-end running shops and New Balance stores only, he said.

Kearney grew up 30 minutes from West Point military academy in New York and continues to support the U.S. military through donation programs at his store. He said New Balance, a military supplier, is the only athletic shoe manufacturer that continues to make shoes in the United States.

Kearney has been in the shoe industry for 20 years. He believes the feet are the foundation of the body and that their job to support the body for its entire life is a hefty one.

His experienced eye can target a customer’s foot problems at a glance, and an in-store scanner helps him explain everything to clients. He can help reduce knee, hip and back pain with the right shoe, and doctors send patients to him to relieve heal spurs, plantar fasciitis, bunions and hammer toes.

Besides being a board certified pedorthist, he’s a master fit technician and has a background in athletic training. He and his wife, Angela, opened New Balance in East Brainerd in 2003.

New Balance Chattanooga is located at 1820 Gunbarrel Road, next to David’s Bridal. For more information call 894-5400.

COMING IN JULY

In July the Chattanooga New Balance store will begin accepting donations of modestly worn shoes for Nashville-based Soles-4Souls. Donors will receive $10 off a new pair of shoes at New Balance. This shoe drive runs through November, when it will be celebrated with a two-day relay race from Chattanooga to Nashville with teams of 12 runners. The Kearneys also donate shoes to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen year-round.

COMING IN LATE SUMMER

New Balance Chattanooga is bringing Cobb Hill shoes to women in late summer. Hal Kearney said they’re designed by a Clarks shoes veteran for the 25- to 35-year-old business woman.

“That’s pretty much an area of neglect in the footwear industry,” he said. With Cobb Hill’s style and price point — $80 to $90 — Kearney expects they’ll be popular. “We have a lot of high hopes for that,” he said. “[The designer] has spent a ton of time developing this line. We think it’s going to catch some legs.”

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