West Point Shoe Outlet selling safety shoes

Published 8:45 am Thursday, April 23, 2020

WEST POINT — Tom Oswalt opened the West Point Shoe Outlet in August 1996, the same month the Olympic Games were in Atlanta. He did a good business in downtown West Point for the first decade or so, but it was the coming of Kia and its suppliers that transformed his business.

“We didn’t have all the safety inventory we have now until we had the demand for it,” he said. “That changed when Kia and the suppliers came. That created a big local demand for steel-toe work shoes and boots. We started doing a boot truck. There have been times when we took it to a manufacturer and supplied their whole plant with safety shoes.”

It’s that demand for safety shoes that has allowed the store to remain open during the coronavirus crisis. Those shoes and boots are considered professional protective equipment, or PPE, and are in demand by not only manufacturers but by first responders as well.

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“If you supply PPE to critical manufacturers, you can stay open during this emergency as long as you follow the safety precautions,” Oswalt said. “We practice social distancing inside the store. We have hand sanitizer, and we are constantly wiping down the common areas. We have a shield at the register for protection.”

Oswalt said the economic slowdown has hurt his business but he is glad he can stay open.

“I am looking forward to the day when everyone can get back out and shop again,” Oswalt said. “The name-brand items we carry for women has been our core business for years.”

The slower than normal business traffic has given Oswalt time to do some remodeling inside the store, something he had originally planned to do this summer.

“We’re adding an additional 600 square feet of retail space,” he said.

Oswalt has approximately 4,000 pairs of shoes and boots inside West Point Shoe Outlet.

When the boot truck is figured in, he has somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 pairs.

The safety shoe and boot line include such popular names as Carhartt, Ariat, Georgia Boot, Redwing, Timberland Pro, Justin, Double H, Carolina, Durango and Twisted X.

“We have our boot truck, and we sell online at www.westpointsafetyshoes.com,” Oswalt said.

Located on the corner of West 3rd Avenue and West 7th Street, the West Point Shoe Outlet is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT on Monday through Saturday.