Business

Hollister Comfort Shoes: Ahhhh

Couple bring specialty footwear to town.

It’s a common problem in small towns: a lack of specialty stores. 

In Hollister, for instance, a solid shoe store has never quite found its footing. And since Payless ShoesSource closed in 2019, locals have had just a few stores—such as Target and Big 5—to purchase the familiar tennis shoes, flip-flops, cute boots and heels. 

But local consumers couldn’t find a selection of comfort shoes recommended by podiatrists or orthopedic doctors. That is, until Enrique Martinez and his wife, Ecliseria, opened Hollister Comfort Shoes in November 2019.

Ecliseria, 34, a stay-at-home mom of three, and Enrique, 39, a worker for a local construction company, saw this as a chance to realize their longtime dream of running a business.

“We have many workers here in Hollister: ranchers, construction workers, and people who work in the fields,” Ecliseria said. “So we decided we wanted to help people find work boots.”

Ecliseria Martinez assists Jesse Ortiz (left) with purchasing his coveted boots: Irish Settlers. Photo by Jenny Mendolla Arbizu.
Ecliseria Martinez assists Jesse Ortiz (left) with purchasing his coveted boots: Irish Settlers. Photo by Jenny Mendolla Arbizu.

But Ecliseria didn’t want to limit their merchandise to just boots. She also saw the need to assist clients who needed comfort shoes recommended by doctors.

So when opportunity finally met preparation, the doors to Hollister Comfort Shoes opened at its original location on San Felipe Road at the Fiesta Plaza. Soon after finding steady business, the store sought a more prominent location. The store reopened in December at its new location, 1760 Airline Highway, Suite C (the former Zoom Photography space, next to Nob Hill).

Hollister Comfort Shoes has work boots from Red Wing, Thorogood, Danner, Wolverine, Ariat, and Carolina displayed along the walls. And for those seeking comfort shoes, a variety of them can be found, ranging from cute heels to cozy sandals and boots from Dansko, Ugg, Täōs, A’Rcopedico, Teva, Oofos, Fitflop and Vionic, among others. Compression socks, hand bags, and a “selection for the little ones” are also on hand.

The store's selection of comfort shoes are anything but boring. They range from tennis shoes to classy heels. Photo by Jenny Mendolla Arbizu.
The store’s selection of comfort shoes are anything but boring. They range from tennis shoes to classy heels. Photo by Jenny Mendolla Arbizu.

The store’s Aetrex 3D Footscan provides customers with complete data about their unique arch type and pressure points, so they can select the right type of orthotic shoe inserts.

“You can choose an insole from the store, starting around $70,” said Ecliseria. “If you need a custom one, we’ll order them for you. Those are about $150, but that is inexpensive compared to what doctors ask for, which is around $500. After 30 days, if you don’t like the way they feel, you can bring them back. But that hasn’t happened so far.”

Since the move, the store has received increasing recognition.

“A lot of my friends come in here with their moms,” said Gina Pacheco, an employee with the store since December. The high school sophomore, who moved to Hollister last year, said the job has enabled her to meet many locals. “It’s been nice.”

Aetrex Footwear and Orthotics are available to purchase, while the store's Aetrex 3-D Foot Scanning Machine gives information on a person's size, pressure and arch type. It can also determine custom orthotics for unique feet. Photo by Jenny Mendolla Arbizu.
Aetrex Footwear and Orthotics are available to purchase, while the store’s Aetrex 3-D Foot Scanning Machine gives information on a person’s size, pressure and arch type. It can also determine custom orthotics for unique feet. Photo by Jenny Mendolla Arbizu.

Jesse Ortiz is a repeat customer of Hollister Comfort Shoes. “My neighbors recommended this store to me,” he said. “They’re all farmers, and they told me that they have quality boots, which is true. You would have to go far to get these brands. You can’t find Red Wing or Irish Settlers in town; they’re not even at Boot Barn.”

Helping Hollister residents find what was previously unavailable locally has brought an unexpected gift to Ecliseria.

“We get many older customers who can’t drive out of town to get the shoes that are recommended by doctors, so I’m trying to help them in any way I can,” she said. “I feel so blessed because there are many ladies who come in and support us. And I ask myself, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’”

It’s a question Hollister residents may well ask about Hollister Comfort Shoes, as well. 

 

Jenny Mendolla Arbizu

Jenny is a Hollister native who resides in her hometown with her husband and son. She graduated from San Benito High School, and received her BA in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and her MA in Education from San Jose State University. Jenny has written for the Hollister Freelance, San Benito Magazine and South Valley Magazine. She finds joy in meeting new people in San Benito County and in spotlighting the county’s events and businesses. When not writing, Jenny can be found cuddling with her fur-babies, performing with SBSC, singing with the Hollister VFW, or doing rope climbs at Cold Storage CrossFit.