Established by Louis Montano Sr., the shop is now run by partners and cousins Anthony and Ed Montano Jr..
“We try to do things in this store the way it was done a hundred years ago,” said Anthony. “We keep all the old traditions and thought processes alive. We’re very service-oriented. That’s what the business is built on, and that’s what separates us from everybody else.”
Developing relationships with neighboring merchants is par for the course in keeping century-old traditions alive
“They’re amazing neighbors,” said Daisy Bolle, owner of Dig, located a few doors down. “It’s so nice to have an established business nearby. I think we have a different clientele than they have, but it’s nice to see a business succeeding. They’ve always been very supportive of all of us newcomers, and it’s so nice to be able to get my kids shoes right next door.”
Bolle continued, “I think it elevates the town to have a business like that, that’s so professional and really services their clients. Their clients love them. They come in here and gush about them. The Montano’s experience is incredible.”
As you enter, attentive employees greet you, and ask if they can help you find anything. While this may be common practice in most retail stores, Montano’s employees are extensively trained to help each customer find the perfect pair of shoes for his unique situation.
“We offer a service that is pretty much unavailable anywhere else in the footwear industry,” said Ed Montano. “We fit you in the proper size. We can direct a customer to the proper shoe for the situation. We have the knowledge of footwear that you are not really going to get anywhere else in a retail location.”
This service experience begins with employees measuring each customer’s foot, and speaking with them about their needs. Montano’s specializes in comfort shoes, and with over 20,000 pairs in stock, they can handle athletes in need of running shoes, workers in need of boots, or active people looking for comfortable walking shoes. Everything is double-checked. One employees will fit a pair of shoes, and then a second employee with check the size and fit of those shoes.
“For us, it’s very important that you leave with the right pair of shoes,” said Ed. “That really is the biggest thing to us.”
On average, over 100 customers are serviced each day. No online or mail order sales are done, since the customer service aspect of the business would be lost to those avenues.
Suzanne Wald-Balsamo is a satisfied customer. She says the store is always busy but welcoming. The Montano family goes out of its way to make sure each customer leaves with a smile.
“The last time I was there, I bought my son a pair of shoes,” said Balsamo. “He was eying this backpack and talking about going to school. When we left, Mama Montano came running out of the store after us and handed him the backpack. It was so sweet.”
She says the family is always kind, helpful and courteous.
“They’re just lovely people,” said Balsamo.
As a fellow business owner – Balsamo owns the Partition Street Wine Shop- she says the Montanos set a benchmark in the Saugerties business community.
“Every time I get discouraged about middle of the winter business, I think about them and realize that they are the foundation of this village, and we all aspire to be as successful as they are.”
The Montanos try to be ready for anything.
“We can handle everything from a baby’s first pair of walking shoes to when you get to a later point in life where you may have foot problems. We handle diabetic footwear, custom orthotics and custom shoe modifications,” said Ed.
Ed Montano is a certified pedorthist, and makes all orthotics and modifications in-house. In the rear of the store, Ed operates a lab where orthotics are made. Over the counter orthotics and inserts are also available, and he can help customers choose the correct devices to correct foot problems and deal with discomfort.
Montano’s often see entire families. Lifelong customers often bring younger generations to shop at Montano’s, passing on a family and a community tradition. The customer base is not limited to Saugerties though, and the Montanos say that customers are drawn from all of Ulster and several of the surrounding counties.
Though they recognize that some people think the prices are high, the quality of the shoes is equally high.
“We carry the best shoes you can buy,” said Ed Montano. “If you compare apples to apples, our prices are lower than you would pay anywhere else for the same product.”
Montano’s Shoe Store is located at 77 Partition Street, and is open from 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday. On Fridays, the shop is open from 9:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. More information can be found at www.montanosshoestore.com.