By Nancy Brumback
Westborough – After 25 years, Happy Feet Kids, the children's shoe store in Westmeadow Plaza, will be closing its doors, going out of business after one last chance for customers to buy great shoes.
Happy Feet Kids begins its liquidation sale today, with the entire inventory discounted up to 70 percent.
Harvey Shanbaum, who bought the store from the original owners in 1999, has focused on a high level of customer service and careful fitting of shoes to rapidly-growing feet.
“I will miss my customers and staff most,” he said as he prepared the store for its final sale. “We’ve seen children go from their first steps to high school graduation. Our customers are the best. They appreciated us and that feeling is mutual.
“I’ve also been fortunate to have the best staff with me for many years, and I could not have done it without them,” Shanbaum said.
Everything must be sold in the current liquidation sale, including the fixtures and child-sized seating, which he suggested might be perfect for a daycare center or children's dance studio. The only thing not on sale is the Boy Scout and Girl Scout merchandise and school uniforms. The store will continue to offer Scout merchandise until it closes but cannot discount because of licensing agreements.
Shanbaum has been in the retail business since 1978. He grew up helping in the family store in Southbridge that his father started in 1946, and worked for a time at Jordan Marsh, the department store chain that is now Macy's.
“I’ve enjoyed my years in retailing a lot, and I’m going to miss it, but it is time to take a break,” he said. Shanbaum plans to take some time off to relax once this store closes, before exploring new opportunities.
During the final sale, Happy Feet Kids will be open extended hours, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays noon to 5 p.m.
Customers will find the store's selection of top-quality children's shoes, including Stride Rite, Merrell, Kamik, Keen, Skechers, Saucony, New Balance, Teva, Nike and Pediped, along with socks and other accessories, just in time for back-to-school needs. Happy Feet Kids carries basic styles, dress shoes, sneakers, hiking and snow boots, and also tap and ballet shoes and soccer cleats. The sale will continue until the entire inventory is sold.
“We will still provide the service we are known for and fit shoes carefully during the sale,” Shanbaum said.
Reminiscing about his years in the children's shoe business, Shanbaum noted the increasing popularity of glittery sneakers for girls and character and action themes for boys. And in dressy shoes for girls, “it's not so much the little-girl look any more but more a scaled-down version of mommy's styles.”
He commented on the continuing disappearance of independent shoe stores such as Happy Feet Kids, and expects customers will feel that loss. “When I went to the shoe trade shows, I could pick the best products with my specific customers in mind,” he said.
Happy Feet Kids is located at 164 Milk St., Westborough, at the intersection of Routes 9 and 135 in the Westmeadow Plaza next to Papa Gino's.