MONTROSE – Debbie Tenaglia, who has been in the shoe business since the age of 14, wanted a change from her busy life as the national sales manager of an orthotics shoe business in Toronto, Canada. She was sick of the traffic, noise and pollution, and she was ready to downsize and invest in an area of the United States.
But Tenaglia didn't end up opening her D'Medici Footwear store, which carries an array of fashionable, yet comfortable shoes, and specializes in custom fitting orthotics, in fashionable and pricey Telluride or Aspen – she didn't need to show off, she said.
She was looking for something special, with a population of about 50,000 people, a Main Street location that wasn't supporting a similar business, and a stable community did not rely solely on tourism for its economic health.
After searching for about a year, she found Montrose.
“I love the climate, the population – it has everything a big city has with its south [Townsend Avenue] shops,” Tenaglia said.
And it also had a downtown.
“Having traveled a lot, I've realized that a lot of Main Streets are gone,” she said. “Here, it looked more developed, like they were trying. I see that want, that desire to do things, but there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Tenaglia wanted to be part of it, and in June of last year, after a cumbersome visa process, she took over ownership of 316 E. Main St. in Montrose. She opened her store in March.
“People are very friendly and support me,” Tenaglia said about Montrose. “I think they are happy to see someone who believes in this and is really working at it.”
Tenaglia has kept the homey touches in in her building, with wooden floors, a fireplace and comfy couches.
“I didn't take that small-town charm away – that’s what's missing in the U.S.,” she said. “As an independent store, you need to be part of the community, know its needs. … That's what makes it so special.”
Specializing in custom-fitting orthotics into shoes, as well as carrying quality shoes in hard-to-find sizes and widths, Tenaglia says she is providing the Western Slope community with something it didn't have before.
D'Medici Footwear carries shoes, boots, handbags, belts, shoe-themed décor, and even has a section of men’s clothing.
She carries a wide range of brands, including Rieker, Cole Haan, Ara, Amalfi, Clogs and Sidekicks, and carries women sizes four to 12 in narrow, medium and wide, as well as men's shoe sizes seven to 15 in medium and wide.
In one corner of the store are leather Anuschka bags, hand-painted by an Indian family, and on another wall, Atenti bags in a Western style.
D'Medici has belts, and even fun shoe décor, from baggage tags to tape dispensers.
“There is something for everyone here,” said Jamie Sklavos, Tenaglia's daughter who just finished her first year studying theater at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs. Sklavos is helping her mother in the store this summer.
Tenaglia said the men's section will be expanding to include more quality clothing, such as Filson, Tommy Bahama, Patagonia and Outdoor Research.
“I believe don't buy many, buy good,” she said.
Tengalia also believes that shopping for shoes shouldn't be embarrassing – she is here to help.
“I like that aspect, that I can help people with foot problems or who are embarrassed about their feet,” she said.
She won't turn away a women looking for a size 11 shoe, she added.
“I want people to be comfortable here, and if they can't find anything – I've got comfy couches for therapy,” she said.
Kati O'Hare at firstname.lastname@example.org