August 5th, 1981 was the day the doors opened on a then tiny shoe store under the name of Kobbler King. It was a cute little shop complete with a fish tank which the owners, Dwane and Darlene Kunitz, figured would be an indispensable tool in impressing our would be clientele: – Children. Much to the shock of our new little customers, measurements were taken (sometimes accompanied by tears…), and shoes were brought out. Each person was individually sized and fitted.
This first idea of service and selection is what has carried Kunitz Shoes’ through the decades and why it remains an outstanding shop today. Those first 10 years were tough. Struggling through the problems that will always face a new business is no easy feat, especially while trying to forge ahead with a time honoured philosophy of service and quality above all else.
By 1991 the little shoe store had established a core of regular customers and the shop was in need of renovations (a bigger fish tank this time!). With the renovations came 2 major steps in our history: The first was leaving behind the franchised name of Kobbler King in exchange for Kunitz Shoes. The second was moving the business into adult as well as kids shoes. The idea of a sit-and-fit shoe shop seemed to be even more needed by grownups than it did for the kids. 7 eager years of shoe service continued, establishing Kunitz Shoes as the place where you could come in, sit down, and have yourself fitted into ”really good shoes” with no compromise to style.
In 2000, the Kunitz’s realized a goal that had been a dream since the beginning. They would move to a larger location outside of a mall. The Southside store was built where it stands today dubbed “the cathedral of shoe shops” by one customer. The fish, again, were offered more space and (perhaps because of that?) business soared. Almost 20 years after opening the door, the Kunitz Shoes philosophy of quality and service was ingrained.
In early 2009 Kunitz Shoes once again pushed out its walls for a bit more elbow room. With the addition of a third more floor space on the southside, we are now better equipped to serve our customers. The stock space was also doubled- this lesser seen area of the store is the nerve centre and heart of the operation and with a much needed expansion we were able to add many new (and much sought after) lines of shoes. Our south side location now exceeds 5,500 square feet and boasts a fish tank that exceeds 100 gallons. Who knew fish, or shoes for that matter, needed so much space!
In September of 2011 (just in time for Kunitz Shoes’ 30th anniversary), the Kunitz family opened the doors on their new 3,600 square foot Jasper Avenue location. In an effort to maintain unparalleled merchandise selection and quality service in an independently owned shoe shop, the second generation of Kunitz’s are taking the family name to new heights and ensuring “that really good shoe store” will be here to fit your “really good shoes” for years to come.
Okay. We’ve covered a lot of ground. Here’s the ending – for over 35 years Kunitz Shoes has been fitting our customers into the shoes that they need. It is not a shop where one often comes with the intentions of buying a specific shoe. Instead, if you come to us with what you want, we’ll do our best to make sure you leave with what you need.