Q.   What made you consider working for The Barn in the first place?

A. “I used to work as a Shoe Manager in a large department store, which was not an ideal work environment for me. While I was still living in Newton, I saw an ad in the local Newton paper in 1997 for a Shoe Buyer/Manager. I no longer live in Newton, but I love working here so much, I now travel 1 ½ hours a day to get here.”

Q.   What do you love about working for The Barn?

A. “What’s NOT to love about working here? I love seeing all of the new styles that come out and interpreting those into buying what my customers will like. I also enjoy educating my sales staff along with the vendor representatives who come and talk about key elements of the new shoes. Having a high shoe IQ is definitely valued here; we are educated about the construction of the shoes, which kind of feet they’re best for, sizes, colors, alternatives; it’s something our customers keep coming back for.”

Q.   Why do customers keep coming back to The Barn?

A. “We give customers what they want. We had to evolve from a discount shoe store to carrying top name brands, which prohibit you from discounting. If we still discounted, we couldn’t carry Dansko, Mephisto, Clarks, and Sperry Topsider, which are some of our best-selling brands today. Plus, we have a fabulous Clearance section where we still offer deeply discounted top quality shoes.”

David R., Buyer/Manager Women’s Shoes

Q.   When did you start working for The Barn?

A. “I started working at The Barn when I was 16 years old. I grew up in Newton, went to Newton North High School. The Barn was known to be a reputable store to get a job with flexible student hours, so I started working there part-time after school. I now see my former high school friends and their young families coming in to shop at The Barn all the time! And they say to me, You still work here?!”

Q.   What makes The Barn such a special place to work?

A. “I love working with the people here. I took a little bit of a hiatus from work after graduating from college to get married, have a family.  I could work closer to home now, with so many retail stores around, but I came back to work here because of the great bond we have as a family-owned shoe store. The Barn has afforded me mothers’ hours; I credit this company for being progressive and accommodating me that way.

Also, our loyal customers and our dedication to customer service is what make this place special. I give great credit to Joe Carrigan, General Manager of The Barn, who wears many hats around here. There isn’t anything he asks of his Managers that he himself hasn’t done, or continues to do to make The Barn better every day.”

Q.   Where do you see The Barn in five years?

A“We’ll continue to grow our loyal customer base and I would expect to see us increase our Kids population. We’re becoming a destination for more than shoes—apparel, gifts, accessories, all under one roof. You can’t do that at The Mall.”

Q.   Based on how much you interface with the consumer, how would you assess the general mindset of consumers right now?

A.  “Customers today do more impulse buying. Gone are the days when you go in to do the big Back to School shopping, buying everything from new shoes to winter coats for the season all at once. People tend to buy for the present moment, not for the future season. This keeps us busy constantly writing up orders in filling in some of the small and big things in our inventory. We’re getting deliveries everyday to keep up with the demand.”

Sue P., Buyer/Manager Sportswear & The Kids Barn

Q.   Why do people continue to shop at The Barn?

A.  “We stand behind our product and make sure we have a good variety of sizes and widths. The Barn has struck a good balance between having a complete inventory and a solid sales stream. We try to stay current on what our customer is looking for and accommodate them. The store is community-friendly; customers have become friends and they stop in sometimes twice a week! They love seeing what’s new, a familiar face, and shopping locally.”

Q.   What’s your response to those that say the independent retailer is a dying breed?

A. “Business is done differently today. We know we can’t be all things to all people; so we stick to what we do best—to keep our inventory well stocked so we can satisfy our customers. There’s a 35% return rate with shopping online, so although it might seem more convenient to shop online for shoes, the net gain is actually better by coming in and trying a few pairs on before purchasing. Our customers appreciate the fact that they can come in, get properly fitted if need be, and get what they’re looking for. We take the guess- work out of shopping. Retail shopping is not going away—people still want human interaction. At the end of the day, for us, it’s about making people happy.”

Q.   What’s more fun than doing this?

A. “My family, going on vacation, and watching my four kids grow up, ages 19, 16, 9, and 8.”

Q.    How have you seen shoes change since you started working here?

A. “ New brands, new trends. Take Olukai, for instance, it’s a canvas shoe that is right on-trend, yet it has a good foot bed, so you can look stylish while taking good care of your feet. After all, we’re a comfort-driven store.”

Danny S., Buyer/Manager Men’s Shoes & Athletic Footwear

Q.   What made you consider getting into the shoe business?

A. “I’ve always been around shoes my whole adult life. My first job was in a shoe store. I was a Children’s’ Shoes buyer for a Boston store, then worked at Gerry’s Shoes in Newtonville for 17 years before buying it in 2007. Gerry’s has since closed, but I still love being around people and helping them with their shoes.”

Q.   Why do you love coming to work everyday?

A. “I love my staff here. We have a lot of younger adults working in The Kids Barn and some customers don’t realize just how talented and knowledgeable our staff is even though they may be young.”

Q.   What kind of a threat does online versus in-store shopping pose?

A. “It’s survival of the fittest. Those with the most experience will survive. We’ve been through recessions, downturns and upturns in the economy and have survived them all. The Internet has impacted us in some ways, but you can’t try shoes on online and you can’t get an expert’s opinion about fit. Here you can shop for the whole family- it’s one stop shopping. It’s actually faster to shop here; you get to feel the quality of the shoe and see how well it fits. Here, you know what you’re buying– it’s like one click shopping.”

Q.  What important message would you want new customers to know?

A. “Our customers appreciate the fact that we don’t carry crazy, expensive shoes or the least quality shoes; we offer the best value. We give you fashion and function without exorbitant pricing. Also, people like to shop local, so we’ve been a mainstay over the years for the metro west community.”

Dan F., Buyer/Manager Kids Shoes