The National Shoe Retailers Association (NSRA) has named Troy Dempsey, owner of The Heel Shoe Fitters in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as its 2022 Retailer of the Year. The announcement was made during NSRA’s Leadership Conference, held in November in Tucson, Arizona.
Dempsey joined The Heel Shoe Fitters in 2009 and partnered with then-owner Bob Sanderson to run the store. As a board-certified pedorthist, his training allowed the store to start focusing on foot health and carrying higher-quality brands. In 2012, he acquired full ownership of the business when Sanderson retired. Between 2012 and 2016, Dempsey added 13 people to his staff, including a full-time shoe cobbler. In 2016 he relocated the store to a 23,000-square-foot building that houses more than 60,000 pairs of shoes, plus clothing and accessories.
“The Heel” takes a step-by-step approach to serving customers, reports the NSRA. Its non-commissioned staff takes the time to listen to customers’ needs and teaches them about their foot health in the process; they take a zero-pressure approach to sales and help customers make the best decisions. Dempsey can typically be found on the sales floor doing what he loves the most: working with customers.
In 2020, the store was down only by 6 percent after several weeks of closure due to Covid-19. In 2021, “The Heel” increased total sales by 70 percent while maintaining a 51.5 percent gross profit margin. “This not only exhibits grit and resilience, but it’s an example of exemplary leadership through what many may say is the most challenging years they ever faced in business,” says NSRA vice chair Jill Snyder.
“Wow, this is incredibly humbling,” says Dempsey. “This organization and the people in this industry have embraced me and our business so much and I am so fortunate for that. One of my favorite phrases is ‘the harder you work the luckier you get’. Our team works incredibly hard every day on our mission to give the best customer-service experience our customers ever had. I’m lucky to have an incredible team at ‘The Heel.’”
“If you know Troy, he is a man with a great heart for service and genuine compassion for people,” says Snyder. “Troy humbly uses the platform he has built as an opportunity to give back to the community that supports his business. It is not unusual for Troy to supply shoes to a running club for underprivileged kids or to donate shoes to a local homeless shelter, just to name a few things.”
Dempsey joined NSRA as a retail member in 2016, and was elected to NSRA Board of Directors in 2019.