A Little Slice of Pie
Pie Footwear is an environmentally and socially conscious footwear boutique for men and women located in the bustling and artsy Alberta District of Portland, Oregon. The store offers year-round, in-store shoe recycling programs and a wide variety of vegan friendly shoes. Pie Footwear encourages consumers to indulge responsibly and join them in supporting footwear companies who are actively working to change industry standards, by innovating sustainable corporate practices, producing products under safe, fair, legal and humane working conditions and offering environmentally conscious footwear collections.
We had the owners of Pie Footwear sit down and answer some questions. Read on for an insider’s take at a great Simple Shoe retailer!
Tell us all about your store! How long have you been in business? What type of products do you carry?
Pie Footwear opened in NE Portland’s Alberta Arts District in August of 2008. Since we are located in the “Arts District” we hang local art in our shop. Each “Last Thursday” of the month Alberta Street hosts a spontaneous art walk, we participate by staying opening late and featuring a new local artist every month. Rooney is our shop dog and quite possibly the best thing about Pie, shoes aside. He is partial to barking friendly hellos and letting you give him treats. He likes to be told how pretty he is and plays coy to a perfection. He is happy to help you pick out some shoes next time you are in, as long as ear scratches follow.
It was very important to Stacey and JC to not only to bring the most environmentally friendly brands into the store, but also build out the storefront with its environmental impact in mind. LED light fixtures were used to reduce the energy required to light the store. All store fixtures were purchased used and the furniture was hand made by the couple out of reclaimed materials. The fir floors were also re-finished using locally salvaged wood and water-based sealant. All products sold at Pie Footwear meet one or more of our Sustainable Ingredients Standards. Each item carried in our store is evaluated on its environmental and social benefits. We evaluate our brands at both the product and corporate levels. Beyond the make-up of our shoes, we believe it is equally important to support corporations that are committed to environmental and social philanthropy as well as continuous improvement of company wide sustainable practices. See our website for our sustainable ingredients standards (www.piefootwear.net/Ingredients).
Other fun facts: We are located in Portland, but have palm trees outside our shop. We petitioned the city to install a bike corral in front of our store to provide bike parking for our commuting customers as well as promote alternative transportation.
Tell us about yourself! Why did you decide to go into business?
Pie Footwear was conceived by Stacey Matney in April 2007. Stacey, a Portland native, had worked in Operations Management for eight years and was heeding the call of the Universe to make a life change when Pie Footwear was created. Originally slated to be a comfort shoe store, in partnership with her husband JC Matney, the pair was inspired to create a more meaningful business and “indulge responsibly” was born. All products sold at Pie Footwear meet one or more of our Sustainable Ingredients Standards created by the owners to ensure that every product brought into the store aligns with the couple’s vision. When the couple brought their concept to the WSA National Shoe Show in Las Vegas in the summer of 2007, they were scoffed at and told their concept was unrealistic based on an industry driven on consumerism and the next hot trend. There was "green washing" to wade through, some company's claimed they were sustainable because they recycled paper in their corporate offices. Not to be deterred, the couple took the skepticism with a smile, asked the hard questions of each brand they met with and talked passionately about their concept to anyone who would listen. Their perseverance and research paid off and they came out of their first shoe show with 5 brands on board. Almost 3 years later, Pie carries a mix of 25 brands that cover, the best in sustainable footwear, bags, hats & socks.
Do you enjoy being a business owner?
Yes, we do enjoy being businesses owners. You work a lot, but you never feel like your really working. When you are doing something that you have passion about, something you created, work is never really work. I (Stacey) feel personally satisfied every time a customer leaves happy, it’s the payoff of all my hard work.
What are some of the highlights of your job?
Taking our dog to work, being surrounding by shoes, being located in a vibrant neighborhood with fun and interesting people, happy customers, having a coffee shop across the street, vanilla latte please!
Why do you carry Simple Shoes?
§ Simple was the first brand to get behind our store concept and agree to sell us product.
§ Simple shoes meet all our Sustainable Ingredients Standards. We love that they are a brand that cares about the environment. We dig their use of natural materials, recycled materials and new cool technology - can we say bio-d soles!
§ Simple also provides fun styles along with their green message that appeal to people of all ages.
§ Simple = Style + Sustainability – Pie Footwear = Style + Sustainability – Retail match made in eco-heaven.
§ No “Green Washing” here!
What is the most popular Simple style you carry?
We carry a lot of Simple so we have more than one popular style. Here are the customer favorites for men and women:
Satire classic black
Satire Ribbon in Bison & Charcoal
D-Kay in Deep Blue – New favorite so lightweight!
Toemorrow (any color! Women love this style as well)
Tuba Hemp Charcoal or Black Olive
Tuba Organic Cotton in Asphalt
D-solve Hemp Black/Green – New Favorite
Have you ever had a unique customer experience while selling Simple Shoes?
Simple is our number one selling brand, so the majority of our selling experiences are with Simple.
Here are the typical reactions we get when helping someone with the Simple brand:
"These are so comfortable! There squishy, I didn’t know sneakers could be squishy!"
"This is my 2nd (3rd, 4th, 5th) pair of Simples, I love this brand!"
"Is this car tire on the bottom? How cool!"
"I love that Simple has vegan options."
"Wow, you guys have a great selection of Simples! I’m not use to having so many choices!"
What do you do on a daily basis to live more sustainably?
§ We are a one car household and compute via bike and public transportation when possible.
§ Compost! We have a homemade worm box and only require trash service once a month.
§ Recycle – this is a no brainer J
§ Shop local. We shop local whenever we can. Frequenting farmers markets, participating in CSA’s, buying organic and supporting our local retail businesses for clothes and other items.
§ Buy alternative energy (wind power) at home & at the store.
§ We are vegetarians.
Get in touch with Pie!
Pie Footwear is located at 2916 NE Alberta Street in Portland, Oregon.