LYNDHURST, Ohio — Mar-Lou Shoes, located in Lyndhurst, first opened its doors in 1958.
“The whole premise was hard to find sizes and widths," said Daniel Ungar, the president of the business.
Ungar's father started the company. For years, they specialized in the hard-to-size shoes. But, over the years they morphed into your typical shoe store, now carrying all sizes for men and women.
Ungar said as they've evolved over the years to meet the needs of their community, they've had to evolve yet again due to COVID-19.
“We are adapting to the best of our ability. It’s truly a new world," he said.
Mar-Lou Shoes shut down temporarily on March 17, after the stay at home order when into effect. Their doors remained closed until May 12, when retail stores were permitted to reopen.
Ungar described the closing as difficult and devastating. The family-owned business was forced to lay off employees for the first time in its history. “It was a big shock to myself and my family," he said.
Rather than giving up, Mar-Lou Shoes pivoted. Ungar said he and his staff utilized the web and online sales. During the near two-month closure, Ungar reported high sales from their online store.
The success then carried over once the store officially reopened.
Customers flocking to the store and walking out with new shoes in hand.
“We’ve been around a long, long time and it’s very, very encouraging and it’s wonderful to see the support out there for us in the community and other small retailers," Ungar said.
To keep customers and employees safe, Mar-Lou Shoes implemented several new procedures.
At this time only six customers are allowed inside the store at one time, facial coverings are required for everyone and they ask for cooperation to properly social distance.
“My wonderful employees and myself are doing what we can do to give the best service that we can and at the same time respecting the social distance with the customer," he said.
More than anything, Ungar said, he's happy to see his community again and is looking forward to brighter days.
“Things are looking up. They’re getting better. There’s more of a positive vibe and it feels good to be back in the saddle again.”