As Karl Harter, owner of Movin’ Shoes, tells me about stores of the past at his favorite breakfast spot in downtown Madison, Marigolds, I come to realize that in these 43 years it was never about selling shoes, but more about building the community and making people’s lives better. For over two hours, I learned about the ins and outs of the history at Movin’ Shoes with more stories than I can count. From every shoe to every rep he had ever had and every staff member that has ever worked for him, the vault was open and the stories were flowing. When Karl and a buddy started business in fall of 1973 it was a more simple time, they were tired of going to big sporting goods stores and having a salesman with very limited knowledge and literally no product in the store try to sell them shoes. From there, with nothing more than a peg board, a shoe box to hold the money, and a notebook to keep track of sales, they opened one of the first run specialty stores in the country. With four shoes on the wall, costing 18.95 a pair, they opened the first of many locations in the basement of the WSA Pharmacy on State Street in downtown Madison. Their biggest concern was making sure they had the customer’s size in stock and from there it was just deciding which color the customer wanted; blue, white or brown. For years it was just about getting shoes out there and making sure customers understood what running shoes were all about. Overall, it was about all of that though, and much more.
“I don’t think of our store as great in the fact that it needs to be fresh every day and everyone loves coming to work. I’ve been in it for over 40 years and I still love it every day. Having a great environment is key and serving the customer. It’s not about making a profit; it’s about helping the customer.” – Karl Harter
From four shoes on the wall they grew to more in the next few years and by 1976 Saucony was introduced to the shop. With the first Saucony rep being Gary Loving, Karl brought in the Hornet, Dove and Freedom Trainer. He explains how they were great shoes and the brand has continued to grow and evolve from day one. He even recalls from the Hind days of apparel, being one of the first stores to carry Men’s running tights. Before Hind came out with the tight everyone wore women’s dance tights, he said. Finally Hind came to me with this tight for $28 and asked if I would wear them and I said I would and I would sell them, he explains. Karl never was afraid to try new things and talking with him more about the shop, his vision has always been to keep thing fresh, because that is what keeps people coming back. For a man in the business for 43 years he has created quite the legacy for himself. Being inducted into the Running Hall of Fame a few years ago it shows how much he is respected around the industry and how much he has influenced what the business is today. Movin’ Shoes is a living landmark in the running industry and will continue to thrive with a great staff and a great running community that is dedicated to its local businesses.
TOP 3 RUNS
- UW Arboretum- 1207 Seminole Hwy, Madison, WI 53711
- Monona Terrace Trail- 1 John Nolen Dr, Madison, WI 53703
- The Shell on UW Campus- 1430 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711
POST-RUN IN TOWN
- Mason Lounge- 416 S Park St, Madison, WI 53715
- Memorial Union- University of Wisconsin-Madison, 800 Langdon St, Madison, WI 53706
- Capital Square- 2 E Main St, Madison, WI 53703
FOLLOW THEM ON SOCIAL!
- Shadow Rep: Benn Zubke
- Sales Rep: Paul Peters
By: Benn Zubke, Saucony Shadow Rep