Best Shoe Store: Steamboat Shoe Market |

Best Shoe Store: Steamboat Shoe Market

It takes a lot of shoes to survive in Steamboat Springs — everyday shoes, running shoes, river sandals, cowboy boots, snow boots, hiking boots, fishing shoes, cleats, cycling shoes and more. And that’s all before ski and snowboard boots.

Plenty of those needs fall in the purview of Steamboat Shoe Market, which has been selling many of the vast array of shoes required for life here for nearly 15 years.

Rick and Linda Petet opened their store Oct. 26, 2000, on Lincoln Avenue. Plenty has changed in the years since, from the location — they’ve made several stops on Steamboat’s main avenue — to employees. Now their son, Cameron, works the floor with them.

“We were looking to make a move in life,” Rick says of the family’s decision to come from Nebraska to Steamboat. “We got a tip from a friend in the shoe business in Estes Park that Steamboat might be ripe for a shoe store, and he was right.”

Linda is actually the family’s shoe expert, or at least she was when they started. She’d had a shop in Nebraska and has been working in the industry since she was 16.

Rick was a school teacher and a coach who agreed to give a shoe store a shot, but who realized he might be seeking other employment in Steamboat at some point. That was never required.

The store has ridden the trend waves in the industry. A decade ago, they had a thriving web site but that income evaporated when online retailers like Amazon and Zappos come along. They’ve brought on companies that have done well, such as UGG, and others that have come and mostly gone, such as Crocs sandals and Vibram’s FiveFingers minimalist running shoes.

Through it all, they’ve sought to provide service and options, and that’s one of the reasons they were voted Best of the Boat this year in a town that requires a shoe closet worthy of Imelda Marcos.

“There aren’t many full-service shoe stores left in the world today, but we’re one of them,” Rick says.

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