When you first walk into the Red Pair, the first thing you notice is the stylish, urban vibe. This is because owner Stephanie Robinson misses certain things about city life, particularly the consumer experience. “My idea of a perfect holiday is heading down to Vancouver and just shopping,” she says with a smile. Robinson wanted like-minded Rosslanders to have a place where they can browse and splurge on “fun and funky” items.
Shoes at the Red Pair target the West Kootenay lifestyle, with an emphasis on comfortable, durable footwear that happens to look fantastic. “I try to carry things that other local stores won’t have,” Robinson says, “Most of the shoes in here are health-focussed, you can be in them all day. A few others are just fun and fancy.”
Shoppers can also peruse a large selection of handbags, shades, costume jewellery and accessories that echo the funk-factor of the footwear. “I like shoes,” Robinson laughs, “But I love handbags.” A testament no visitor to the Red Pair could possibly doubt.
Twice a year, Robinson heads off to shoe shows where she must make purchasing decisions for the coming season. “I think I have pretty good taste, people seem to like the shoes I bring in,” she says, “But it’s difficult. After a weekend of choosing this shoe or that one, and then in red or brown or green, I find I’m second-guessing myself. I go into these things excited and ready to battle, and then I leave wondering if I’ve made good decisions.” Sometimes, however, it’s the customers that make the decisions for her; “If enough people come in requesting a certain brand, I will do my best to get it,” she insists, “I had so many people asking for UGG boots that I really didn’t have a choice but to bring them in!”
The shop came about because Robinson saw a need in the area. She strongly considered purchasing a couple of local businesses, before deciding to start up her own from scratch. She waited patiently for the Bank of Montreal building to become available to businesses, and had her eyes on the corner spot from the beginning. “I was looking in Rossland for so long, I was starting to lose hope,” she says, “I almost got a space down in Trail, and then things finally happened with this building. This is the very spot we were waiting for.”
Robinson’s entrepreneurial spirit has been with her since her post-secondary days, when a Business Management professor saw her spark and wooed her away from the Sales & Advertising course she had been taking. During her time at school, Stephanie ran a small accessories business, then went on to help run her sister’s windsurfing shop in Oregon. Several Rossland-based business plans came and went before the Red Pair emerged as a clear winner.
Funky-shoe seekers can visit the Red Pair on the corner of Washington and Columbia Monday through Friday from 10-6, Saturdays 10-5 and, in true Kootenay style, the occasional Sunday if Stephanie is up for it (check the Red Pair Facebook page for opening hours updates).