Tag Archives: Athletic Shoe Factory

Holiday Giving: Why They’re Called “Human Services”

Every year, Westport’s Department of Human Services runs a Family Holiday Giving program. Staff members and volunteers match “wish list” requests from people in need with clothes, toys, games and gift cards donated by local schools, businesses, organizations, churches and individuals.

This year, the program will help 116 local families — that’s 400 people.

Typical of local businesses that support the program — very quietly — is Athletic Shoe Factory. Chris Buchner has donated over 1000 pairs of new shoes for adults and children to pick from. You know how important new, cool-looking sneakers are to kids in this town.

Over the years, merchants like Winged Monkey and Wish List have donated new clothing too.

The only reason more folks don’t help is they don’t know about the program. Donations are still being accepted from residents and organizations. Interested? Email hsyouth@westportct.gov or call 203-341-1069.

If you or your family needs support during the holiday season, call 203-341-1050.

Generous Westporters Make Fresh Air Fun

A recent “06880” post on the Fresh Air Fund — noting the importance of providing a week here for inner-city youngsters, and the difficulty of finding host families — sparked immediate interest.

A month later, the ripples keep spreading.

Eileen Ogintz and her husband Andy Yemma will once again open their home. But both work during the day.

The boy they’re hosting loves soccer. Eileen heard that Mickey Kydes runs a camp in Westport during that week. She made a quick inquiry — and Mickey offered a full scholarship.

Her next stop was Athletic Shoe Factory, for gear. Instantly, owner Chris Buchner gave her a brand new pair of soccer shoes, plus shin guards and socks.

Mickey and Chris follow a great tradition. As the Westport Y has done for years, they’ll again provide free spots for Fresh Air children at Camp Mahackeno.

Eileen hopes other Westport merchants can follow Mickey, ASF and the Y’s lead. For example, she’d love for restaurants and ice cream places to give host families a break. “Most of these kids have never been somewhere that isn’t fast food,” she says.

“If everyone just does a little bit, the impact can be huge.”

(Business owners wishing to help Fresh Air Fund hosts provide a great experience can call Martha Mintzer at 203-226-6627, or email martha_mintzer@yahoo.com. Click here to learn more about the Fresh Air Fund.)

One More Great Customer Service Story

Several years ago, the mother of a Staples athlete volunteered to help sell team t-shirts as a fundraiser.  Naturally, she went on the internet; isn’t that where you find the best deals?

Sure enough, internet vendors sold shirts for $3.49.  But — surprise! — there were other charges:  design, set-up, shipping, you name it.

AThletic Shoe FactorySo the team mom checked out Athletic Shoe Factory.  Though hers was a low-profile item — nothing like the high-volume gear bought by Westport Soccer Association or PAL football players — manager Chris Buchner spent hours helping the mom with the entire process.  She received more patient help from Tim Nash, ASF’s designer (and a Staples grad) who’s earned praise from teams in countless sports, at many levels.

Recently, I saw ASF’s magic first hand.  Traditionally the Staples soccer captains design their team t-shirt.  Tim worked with our captains to create a compelling look.  It was great on the computer screen — but when the shirts came in they didn’t look right.  Without waiting for a complaint, Chris initiated a fast re-order.  The replacement shirts were in by the start of tryouts.

The start of fall sports — and Homecoming — are crazy times for ASF.  Teenagers order mind-boggling custom shirts and hoodies.  Meanwhile, stressed-out parents and little kids clamor for shoes, shorts and equipment.  ASF is a scene of controlled chaos.  The staff is always cheerful, never harried — and very helpful.

ASF is the 1st business to buy a program ad, donate a raffle prize or do whatever is asked.  The response is the same:   “We’re happy to help.  What else do you need?”

No, ASF’s t-shirts are not $3.49.  Then again, neither are the $3.49 t-shirts on the internet.

And when was the last time any web vendor cared about Westport kids?

asf Hoody

A sample of the logowear designed and sold by ASF.