For Gary Goodman, there’s no business like shoe business.
His family’s store, Goodman’s Shoes, has been an Indianapolis fixture for more than a century, dating back to a much simpler era before dot-coms and megamalls dominated the retail landscape. And despite the mounting competition, the store has thrived by carving out a special niche based on providing the community with good shoes and great customer service for generations of local families.
According to Goodman and his wife and partner Patti Goodman, what sets their business apart from the rest is their dedication to building a solid relationship with their customers. Patti Goodman said she knows many of their customers by name. Gary Goodman said he shares a bond with customers who have shopped at his store for years.
“I love that in my work; I’ve met with generations of families,” Gary Goodman said. “People I helped as children now bring their own children in, just because they want to share the experience of getting great shoes.”
Gary Goodman has spent close to 50 years in the store. He started working at the family business in 1964 at age 9, spending his after-school hours scuttling from the sales floor to the stockroom. Back then, his mother managed the books while his father worked with customers. He took the reins in the mid-1970s after his father’s death. And since then, he’s dedicated himself to running his family’s business. Now he’s in the store almost daily, leading a staff with more than 10 decades of combined experience.
“We truly are a family business,” Patti Goodman said. “We consider our staff part of our family too.”
Today Goodman’s Shoes specializes in providing comfortable, stylish footwear and accessories to people of all ages. The store carries more than 40 brands of shoes, including many popular Euro-comfort brands. The store also caters to the hard-to-fit customer, who might struggle to find comfortable, well-fitting shoes online or in other stores.
“The Internet has really changed the way a lot of people shop,” Gary Goodman said. “That isn’t always a good thing. You might need to try on four or five pairs of shoes to find one that’s a comfortable fit, which is difficult when you’re dealing with a retailer located a thousand miles away. Here you can do that in one stop, which ultimately saves time and money. And it’s important. When your feet don’t feel good, nothing feels good.”
The Goodmans are proud to be part of a lasting Indianapolis legacy. Goodman’s Shoes started out as Goodman’s Department Store, founded in 1913 by Gary’s grandfather, Jacob Goodman. The original store opened at 2611 W. Michigan St. The current store in Broad Ripple’s Nora Plaza opened as a second location in the late 1950s but became the family’s sole operation in 1965. And in the half-century since, the Goodmans have built a strong foundation based on their unrelenting dedication to service.
They don’t see that changing anytime soon, either. The Goodmans have two adult children, both of whom work in the financial sector.
“They aren’t involved in the business,” Patti Goodman said. “As of yet, anyway.”