DOWNTOWN KIRKLAND IS a haven for boutique retail stores, and on Aug. 11, Crush Footwear claimed its piece of the pie.
Rhonda Herbert and Neal Hughes, a couple of several years, conceived of this joint venture while sailing through the islands of British Columbia. Their backgrounds in biotech clinical trials, accounting and software would hardly seem to prepare them for a small business in such a niche market.
Except for one detail--Rhonda's love for shoes.
"Rhonda's whole life revolves around her crush on shoes," Hughes teases.
"This is the shoe store I've always dreamed of," says Herbert.
Opening a shoe store has allowed Herbert to be more adventurous in her own footwear choices. The couple enjoy working with emerging designers, both local and from around the world. They proudly pointed out a handmade leather shoe from Buenos Aires--shimmering black and burgundy tones more supple than leather has the right to be.
Though the couple toyed with the idea of an e-commerce site, they decided on a brick-and-mortar store to enhance the customer experience. Many women are disappointed with the results of online shopping gone wrong. Crush Footwear allows customers to make informed choices while indulging the senses in a feminine atmosphere.
"I want to sell shoes I'm proud of, both in style and quality," says Herbert.
Crush Footwear seeks to entice style-conscious women ranging from their 20s to 50s. They sell everything from classic workwear to edgy fun styles for a weekend out. While the full fall line hasn't yet arrived, there are several pairs of boots featuring both sleek and embellished design.
Additionally, the store carries scarves and custom-made handbags with enormous attention to detail--like a fully leather-lined interior in a complementary color or the perfect dimensions for an iPad.
Herbert and Hughes look forward to connecting with the Kirkland community through trunk shows, fashion collaborations and meet-the-designer events. They are always on the lookout for new designers and hope to add a jewelry collection to the mix in the near future.
Crush Footwear is located at 339 Kirkland Ave. next to Foxx Cleaners. They are open Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Contact them at 425-298-4024.