If The Shoe Fits…

Sure, Hawley Lane Shoes is in Norwalk.

But it’s only a few yards over the Route 1 line. Besides, this is my blog. And I won’t let a little thing like a neighboring town get in the way of a great customer service story.

I went in yesterday for some casual shoes, and winter boots. The store was crowded. I’d never been there before. They didn’t know me from Adam.* But they went out of their way to do the right thing. Here’s how:

Tony Bermudez — he’s the assistant manager, though I didn’t know it at the time — offered to help. After determining that my arch width measured differently than my normal shoe size — something I’d never known before — he added some pads to the shoes I was looking at to make them fit better. In all my years of shoe-buying, no one had ever done that.

Tony Bermudez of Hawley Lane Shoes.

Tony Bermudez of Hawley Lane Shoes.

I liked them a lot. But, Tony pointed out, one of the shoes was a tiny bit darker than the other.

Matisse might have noticed. But I am not Matisse. I’m not even Grandma Moses. I never would have seen the difference.

He (Tony, not Matisse) offered me 20% off. Or he could find another pair at another store.

I took the 20%.

Scott LaBianco — his card says “pedorthist/training director,” but Tony calls him “our color magician” — overheard our conversation. Scott offered to see what he could do to make them really match.

A few minutes later, he returned. They looked fantastic. Matisse would have approved.

“I told you 20% off. I’ll honor that,” Tony said. “All I ask is that, if anyone ever asks about a shoe store, you say something nice about us.”

I can do that.

Actually, I can do more.

I can write an “06880” post about Hawley  Lane Shoes. Even if it is in “06851.”

The Norwalk Hawley Lane Shoes store.

The Norwalk Hawley Lane Shoes store.

PS: I bought the boots too. They fit great — and they didn’t need any work done.

*I actually have a cousin in Seattle named Adam Woog. He’s also a writer. That has nothing to do with this story, but you have to admit it is interesting.

10 responses to “If The Shoe Fits…

  1. You’re lucky, Dan, to have the handy venue to write about such small but significant acts of thoughtful behavior, and such behavior deservs recognition.
    In Westport’s retail outlets, I find attentive, “over the top” help often and often wish there were a way to honor it.

  2. Thanks, Dan. Why not mention a few here in the comments? Let’s spead the good word!

  3. Great informational story Dan.. In the day of the mega store, where the small vendor is often overlooked, it is important to know about the great customer service that is available to shoppers.

    Enjoy the boots also.


  4. Wellllll, the most recent (and perhaps most commendable) incident, Dan, was three weeks ago, at Westport Harware.
    An elderly, very well dressed lady asked for an item that was polular in the 50’s….the clerk at Westport Harware said: “sorry, we don’t carry that any longer. Try Carlyn Paint and Hardware over the line in Norwalk; they have everything.”
    Remarkable……and, incidentally, true. Carlyn,run by Chuck and his son, is the very best, most helpful(whether it’s a $600 or $6.00 item) harware store I have ever been to.

  5. Beth Orlan Berkowitz

    Dan, I agree, whenever I go to hawley lane shoes they have all been extremely helpful and knowledgeable. They consistently go out of their way to make sure the shoes/boots fit properly and comfortably. Even when they are busy, they never rush you.

    While we are at it, I have also has similar experiences at Winged Monkey in 06880, as Kathy and her daughter Jenny, know their merchandise extremely well and want to make sure it looks good on you before you walk out with something that just isn’t quite right for you. They really want you to be happy with your purchases and they also will spend time with you when you need their help, but if you prefer not to have their expert opinion, then you can say to them thank you, I think I can figure this out on my own. I appreciate your help, but maybe someone else needs some help. I would rather have their honest opinion than do the clothes shopping on my own. I must say I have also had this kind of service at Mitchell’s, but that store is much more expensive than Winged Monkey and Hawley Lane Shoes. I can’t shop at Mitchell’s as often, but love the service at all of these stores.

    • Thanks, Beth. Mitchell’s is of course the gold standard. They do everything from helping you tie your tuxedo tie (which you didn’t buy there), to delivering a suit to a customer in Japan for a funeral by finding a corporate jet that’s going there, then taking it to the airport. Jack Mitchell’s “Hug Your Customers” is a classic customer-service book.

      And a big shout-out to Crossroads Ace Hardware, where Jimmy, Red, Joe and all the rest search the store for just the right 12-cent bolt — or the exact tool you need, based on your garbled description of your problem.

  6. I love Hawley Lane Shoes too! Great service but not in your face if you are not “ready” for help!

  7. And this was posted a couple of days ago on the “Westport & Fairfield CT Parents” Facebook group, by Danielle Dobin. Another Westport business going above and beyond:

    “HUGE thank you to the Granola Bar of Westport and its incredibly kind owners Dana Zonenshine Noorily and Julie Levitt for providing dinner for thirty-five (yes 35!!!!!) people at Westport’s emergency homeless shelter – the Gillespie Center tonight. Thanks to these lovely ladies and their staff the folks at the Gillespie Center who might not otherwise enjoy a warm meal are enjoying the Granola Bar’s fabulous chili along with all the fixings. It’s one thing to donate a meal or two but providing dinner for thirty-five (35) people is really going above and beyond. Although we offered to purchase the dinners ‘at cost,’ the Granola Bar owners insisted on donating the entire meal. We are so lucky to have the Granola Bar in Westport – they prepare the most amazing, healthy food, the cafe is always buzzing with the best energy and the owners are truly committed to helping the less fortunate in our community. These ladies deserve all the credit in the world for their generosity. Thank you Dana Zonenshine Noorily & Julie Levitt!”

  8. Jean Denholtz

    Great Story–Great Store—and truly heart-warming to recognize people who are kind, caring, and go out of their way for others. Hear! Hear!

  9. Jo Ann Davidson

    Dan, Hawley Shoes had a box for donated used shoes last time I was there. I wore my new shoes out and the old ones went to Africa, I think.
    Jo Ann