Family Footwear celebrating 25 years

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BENNINGTON — Family Footwear Center is celebrating its 25th year helping customers find the perfect fit for their feet.

In an interview Thursday, co-owners Laura and Scott Feathers related opening the flagship store in Bennington and growing the business to one with five locations across three states.

"You constantly need to change. I think that's been a key to our success," said Scott Feathers. "We've been evolving, trying new things."

The business is marking its 25th anniversary with a four-day Columbus Day weekend sale. From today until Monday, everything in each location will be 25 percent off.

The company began in 1992 with the opening of the Bennington store, which was a former Dunham Shoe Outlet. The Feathers, husband and wife, founded it with business partner Ken Roberts, who has since retired. The official anniversary of the store's opening was Sunday.

The Bennington location on Northside Drive is home to the business' corporate offices and their internet store, www.familyfootwearcenter.com. The other stores are in Manchester Center, Lenox, Mass. and Troy, N.Y.

They've worked to make sure their trained associates find a good fit for customers, they said.

"Our associates are trained and they understand all of the product lines," Laura Feathers said.

Staff know how to guide customers towards the best footwear for the right job, whether it be for business, running or on a job site. That experience at a business is something an online retailer can't offer. And what people learn from that service can surprise them.

"Eight out of ten people wear the wrong size shoe on their feet," she said. "People come in and get measured and they're shocked."

And that can affect your back and your posture. To that end, they even added a certified professional to their staff in Manchester Center to help in proper shoe fitting of both children and adults,

The Feathers said they've worked to keep prices competitive with online retailers and keeping up with current trends.

"Once you finish a season, you're looking for that same season the following year," Laura Feathers said.

One of the best parts of being in business, they said, has been working with their staff. Many of the 50-or-so employees have been with them for years: Marina Richey has been manager at the Bennington store for 25 years.

"Our people are wonderful," Laura Feathers said. "We're very lucky to have them."

And both gave much thanks to devoted customers for continuing to shop with them.

"They're supporting the local economy," Laura Feathers said.

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.

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