A perfect fit: ‘Shoetique’ for children opens in Conway

The owner or a helpful salesperson measured their foot and slipped the shoes on, tying or buckling the shoe and checking to be certain the fit was just right.

Many such stores have vanished, but Brenda Bizzell and Linda Skyrme have opened a new “shoetique” for children in Conway, offering those same services. Shoe Choo Train, a shoetique for boys and girls, is located at 2585 North Donaghey Ave.

Bizzell and Skyrme worked together in customer service at UPS for more than 30 years.

“We were both promoted up through the organization. We always kept in touch,” Skyrme said.

Bizzell ended up in Flowood, Miss., where she and her husband opened a dress shop for girls. The store also carried shoes, and she noticed the shoes were as popular as the dresses. They decided to expand, and Shoe Choo Train was born. The next year she discovered there was a need for a second store in Jackson to serve customers who did not want to travel to Flowood. It was then she called on Skyrme for help.

“I realized she’d been in retirement too long,” Bizzell said. “We’re Type A-plus personalities, so we have to do something.”

Skyrme was living in Conway at the time, and she became partners with Bizzell. In the third year of Shoe Choo Train, the Conway location is the third store. The two are considering another location in Arkansas and one in Georgia.

“UPS taught us a lot about managing a business and managing people,” said Bizzell. “At UPS, the customer comes first. That’s what we bring to the shoe business. We put our customer in the center of the operation.”

Skyrme grew up in central Arkansas, and the places to purchase children’s shoes were Blue Ribbon or Monday Powell, she said.

“They knew you personally. They made you feel like they were there to take care of you,” she said.
Bizzell said parents today have had to purchase their children’s shoes at big box stores with little or no assistance, guessing at which size is right for their child.

“It makes me think of the old full-service gas stations. It’s not really a service station anymore,” she said.
Bizzell continued, “No one wants to service a child’s foot. We’re going to know the child. We’re going to measure their foot. Not all shoes are created equal. Not all feet are created equal. There are a lot of bones that grow for a lot of years.”

She said Shoe Choo Train offers popular, quality brands as well as affordable shoes.

“We try to carry brands that appeal to all budgets. Because we’re a shoetique doesn’t mean we’re out of the ballpark when it comes to being financially responsible for a growing family.”

The store also has a loyalty program, offering the seventh pair of shoes purchased at 50 percent off.
“We want people to feel confident their child will walk out in a pair of shoes that fits and is reasonably priced,” Bizzell said.

While the shoetique mainly focuses on shoes, other merchandise includes rain boots, rain coats, gift items, baby items, hair bows and accessories.

Sizes range from infant to young adult, and brands include Geox, See Kai Run, Livie & Luca, Mooshu, Sperry, New Balance, Keds, Wee Squeak, Willits, Naturino, One Ruby Lane, Tsukihoshi and Jessica Simpson Kids.
The owners said they will make every effort to get special-request items as well.
Shoe Choo Train opened in Conway on April 1. Skyrme said compared to the Flowood and Jackson locations, Conway is a smaller area.
“The other two stores were in a larger metropolitan area than Conway. We were hoping we could draw from the surrounding counties, and I think we’ve done that. We have customers from about seven surrounding counties.
“It has been a very positive response,” Skyrme said. “The customers who come in say it is a well-needed store for the Conway area, and they’re very excited we’re here.”