As we celebrate local family-owned businesses this month, we need to look no further than Houma’s Felger’s Footwear: a staple in the area since husband and wife, Mark and Brenda Felger took over the store at its original location in Southland Mall in 1991. Felger’s Footwear—which is now run daily by the mother-daughter duo of Brenda and Rebecca Felger Romano—has provided the best possible foot solutions by understanding their customers’ needs, offering the latest and greatest in therapeutic and stylish shoes, and treating everyone that walks in that they are part of their family.
The Felger family’s professionalism and dedication to their craft has led the business to have a prosperous three-decade span (winning Best Shoe Store in the area for eight years, as well as national display awards from some of their vendors), even though their business has come with many challenges that they have had to overcome.
“The very first challenge we had was we grew too fast. When we took over the store from New Orleans, they were buying stuff for Houma that didn’t necessarily sell in Houma,” said Brenda. “So when we took over we had to kind of redo things a little bit.”
Brenda later continued to talk about their first back-to-school season in which one of their main vendors at the time moved their production of their shoes overseas—making them cheaper as well—causing nearly every shoe sold to comeback defective in some way.
“And today, the biggest challenges are your big box stores. The only thing that keeps us different is the service that we provide. You won’t find anywhere else in the area where they measure you and fit your child,” said Rebecca, who is a Certified Fitter of Therapeutic Shoes and has been serving customers in the store since she was 12 years old. “…So, when you walk in the door, it’s a very relaxing experience. You don’t have to work when you come into our store. That’s our job; that’s what we’re here for.”
Each staff member of Felger’s is thoroughly trained to measure feet and select the most comfortable fitting shoes for their customers. Working with such brands at New Balance, Aetrex, Vionic, Eastland, Dansko, among other noteworthy vendors, the specialists at the store also provide a wide selection for back-to-school, therapeutic, comfort, style, exercise or any other shoe needs.
“The employees mean everything; they are the front line. They represent me, Felger’s—the company. They’re invaluable. We teach them what they need to know, and they do the rest,” Brenda shared. “They’re an extended part of our family. They might not have the same last name that we do, but they are part of our family,” Rebecca added.
Rebecca and Brenda also acknowledged their customers, who they feel are members of their family as well, as they have seen and built relationships with generations upon generations of patrons that have come in and out the store over the years.
“There are lots of elderly who come in, and they’re lonely. They just want to talk and try on shoes. They want comfort—not just on the foot,” Brenda said. “It’s a ministry, besides being a shoe store. We live here. We believe in what we do and we support our community.”
“The employees mean everything; they are the front line. They represent me, Felger’s—the company. They’re invaluable. We teach them what they need to know, and they do the rest,” Brenda shared. “They’re an extended part of our family. They might not have the same last name that we do, but they are part of our family.”•