Head Over Heels
It’s so refreshing when a store is lovely, uncluttered and displays items as objets d’art. A fitting example is (shoo), a high-end shoe boutique that opened in April—which not coincidentally is housed in the former State Street Gallery space.
“Our shoes are like art. We present everything like art, from the jewelry to the clothing to the pieces hanging on the wall,” says owner Pat Blake.
For those who view shoes as a means to take you from point A to B, this store is not for you: Souped-up silver and teal pumps sit near sexy suede black and gold platforms and adjacent to intimidatingly high five-inch black wedges. For the city’s only upscale shoe store that’s just the way Pat and sister Kate Blake envisioned it: catering to men and women who appreciate comfortable, well-made footwear—and don’t mind paying for it.
Kate, a former department store buyer, and Pat, a former stock options trader, opened their first (shoo) location in 2005 in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. It’s no coincidence that shop is also located in the same space as Katie Gingrass Gallery.
“Our Milwaukee space is surrounded by art and that planted a seed in my head to incorporate that aspect. When I found this space I thought, ‘This is it,’” says Pat.
The Blakes brought in some of their favorite Milwaukee and Madison artists that make sassy cigar-box purses, quaint button jewelry, edgy leather earrings, sweet shift dresses and funky knit scarves.
Another notable aspect is that their circa-1890s space housed two shoe stores in the past—Dyer’s Shoes and Foot Saver Shoes. Many of its historic details have been lovingly restored by the Blakes, like the original hardwood floors, pressed-tin ceiling, front windows and entryway.
“Historical documents say that from the 1940s to the 1960s this block was the ‘Shoe District,’” says Pat, chuckling. “So, it’s serendipitous we’re here now. I guess you could say this was a calling.”
A calling my feet will happily answer.
Price range: $129–$600
Owner’s Picks: Cydwoc “Mu” buckle flat boot, $349; Re-mix “Cloche” pump, $209; Fiorentini & Baker “Bean” boot, $579; Timberland Boot Company “Lost History” men’s shoes, $245.
Editor’s Picks: Fashion Ninja leather earrings, $22; shoe clips, $24; Poetic License “Encoure” platform booties, $149; All Black “Graphic” flats, $129.
Verdict: Shoe addicts beware: you will covet the kicks here. But the best part? Pat Blake says every pair they carry must be comfy, which includes everything from their towering wedges to tough-girl motorcycle boots.
• (shoo), 109 State St. 467-6325. Shoostore.com
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Shayna Miller is associate and style editor of Madison Magazine.