Conveniently tucked away in a busy corner on the outskirts of the Hamilton Place Mall area, the New Balance Chattanooga store has been serving runners for nine years this October.
But the popular shoe store doesn't just run on providing athletic shoes; it features other footwear brands as well while still delivering the same level of quality and craftsmanship for which its namesake is known.
These other brands hinge upon the business-casual lifestyle and are offered at competitive price points, according to Hal Kearney, owner of New Balance Chattanooga and a board certified pedorthist, which specializes in the use of footwear and supportive devices to address conditions that affect the feet and lower limbs.
Currently, New Balance Chattanooga offers only the Aravon and Dunham brands to fit the needs of the business-casual lifestyle. Recently, however, a new brand has been added that addresses the need for affordable footwear with that same attention to detail and quality.
Formed through the collaboration between New Balance CEO Jim Davis and Bob Infantino, the man behind the Clarks and Rockport brands, the new Cobb Hill brand offers options for hard-to-fit feet, just as Aravon and Dunham do, but with more approachable and modern designs and functions.
"Dunham has been strong for us from the get-go, but Cobb Hill simply offers different designs at varying models," Kearney said. "It's a brand we needed to have," he added in reference to Cobb Hill.
The new brand's shoes will feature the high-quality leather constructions and supportive features Aravon and Dunham are known for, but will be offered at lesser price points than either, Kearney said.
The Cobb Hill brand should be shipping any day, and will be available by the third week in August. Kearney said he hopes to be able to stock up to 15 different models at his store. Regardless of which shoe they're after, customers will get the same fit analysis and customer service provided by New Balance Chattanooga, he said. When someone comes in looking for a particular shoe, Kearney and his team of fit specialists asses the client's feet and particular needs and then make recommendations and suggestions based on their evaluations.
Another amenity New Balance Chattanooga offers is the ability for customers to reserve a time to sit down with a fit specialist and have him or her evaluate their needs in a particular line of footwear. Simply send an email or call ahead and Kearney said he will make sure someone is available at all times for the customer.
He noted also that his shop has stayed consistently busy due in part to his relationship with area doctors who refer their patients to New Balance Chattanooga for specialized and attentive service.
The store is still reeling - in a good way - from the recent back-to-school taxfree weekend, but Kearney invites those in the market for a good shoe to stop by anytime. "We're still cleaning up from it," he said. "We generally do well during the tax-free weekends and the month of December."
HELPING OTHER SOLES
The Chattanooga New Balance store has begun accepting donations of modestly worn shoes for Nashville-based Soles4Souls. 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.