POSTED ON NOVEMBER 5, 2008:
Step by Step, Year After Year
Since 1937, Trippets shoe store has kept kiddos playing in style
Little Flippers. Trippets, 2635 S. Harvard, can attribute its longevity to the fact that they found a niche in specialty boutiques that will never go out of business -- children's shoes.
I had a two-year self-imposed restraint on any extracurricular activity I participated in as a child. No, my parents didn't enforce it. I was a quitter. Clarinet: two years. Cheerleading: one year. Soccer: two years. Ballet: one year. Some kids grow out of things; I grew bored.
But one interest never faltered. Shopping had always been an interest, but it was a pair of strappy bright pink python printed high heels I wore my sophomore year that became the first piece of my shopping uniform. It was perfect because I had reached the end of the foot-growing road. But unlike soccer cleats, it wasn't an interest that involved a one-time fee. As costly as the activities I grew out of every year became, nothing compared to what I spent in shopping. Sure, some might think the ability to dance gracefully across stage might be more admirable, but those people have never seen my shoe collection.
Parents might not push shopping skill development as a viable after school activity. But whether kids grow out of the desired activities, they certainly grow out of everything else. That is why it is fabulous that for more than seven decades Tulsa has had a place that caters parents and kids. Trippets was established in 1937 and has bounced around the city since. The shoe store started at Fifth and Boulder, moved to 15th Street in 1948 and then to Utica Square in the 1950s. Today, Trippets, 2635 S. Harvard, can attribute its longevity to the fact that they found a niche in specialty boutiques that will never go out of business -- children's shoes. Kids' feet are constantly growing, therefore parents are constantly repurchasing. Shoes never seem to be as great a hand-me-down as clothing. But Trippets is more than just a shoe store, which is why it's had a long-lasting place in Tulsa shopping.
Pointed in the Right Direction
This city is not kind to boutique shopping. Tulsa's inhabitants seem unwilling to support local clothing companies, quite sad being that we support so many other Tulsa-centric businesses. But Trippets inventory isn't quite like what you would find at the mall or your nearest Wal-Mart.
Let me start with the dancewear, a section that took me back to second grade and Bette Midler's "From A Distance," a song I heard probably a million times in preparation for my ballet recital. For women, Trippets has the essential shoes, leotards, dance pants, long skirts and circle skirts in black and nude Lycra. If you are the parent of a future dancer, there's quite a selection of leotards (sleeveless, short sleeved and long sleeved) in Lycra, stretch velvet and shiny fabrics and styles familiar to anyone who watched even a snippet of gymnastics at this year's Olympics. With tap, ballroom, jazz and ballet shoes (including points) and tutus of every shade (including black with cheetah print or bright pink with glitter) and style (flyaway tutus with ribbon rosebuds at the end of each panel), no aspect of the dance outfit is incomplete.
Add an accessory or two, a pair of tights and a dance bag and your kid will have everything she needs for at least a year of dance. The store has a dance bar along mirrored walls, which creates the dance studio atmosphere so the young dancers feel ready to perform.
But if your child doesn't plan on gaining ballerina stardom, Trippets sells a wide assortment of shoes for boys and girls. From infant sizes to size 7, Trippets has a shoe for any occasion. I was drawn to the rain boots that line the perimeter of the store's walls. Prints include lady bugs, frogs, pirate themed, pastel floral and a pair of red boots that look like fire trucks. The boots also have matching rain jackets and umbrellas. In preparation for the upcoming weather, your child might need a pair of snow boots.
Trippets also features dress shoes, tennis shoes, house shoes, boat shoes, sandals and that shoe in it's own field, the Croc. While not the most flattering for adults, Crocs look mildly endearing on a child. Trippets has any kind of Croc you could imagine. The winter variations have arrived as well.
If you or your child is a fan of brand-name products, Trippets has you covered. Adidas (including the Samba indoor soccer shoe), Heeleys, New Balance, Birkenstocks and Stride Rite are just a few of the brands carried. There are dozens of more brands that are remarkably well priced -- a true bonus on a clothing item that could be grown out of speedily. There's also a pretty large reduced price section. If the youngster hasn't quite caught on to the bunny ears trick of tying his shoes, Trippets has plenty of Velcro options. It's the securing device of young champions.
Besides shoes, Trippets has everything that goes with them. Socks and tights are in abundance, of course, but also laces, leather oil, heel cups, suede and hubuck kits and soles to ensure that your tike looks and feels good.
The women's selection of shoes isn't as broad as the children's. There are no stilettos or overtly sexy shoes, no brands that were name dropped on an episode of Sex and the City. In general, these basic black and brown leather shoes focus on comfort. I wouldn't say orthopedic-inspired, but I would think it. They are certainly looks for a certain sector of the population.
Trippets also has great incentives. The family card gives the opportunity for discounts. After buying 12 pairs of shoes (it seems like a lot, but the card never expires), the average of the 12 pairs is discounted from your 13th purchase, sometimes totaling a free pair of shoes. That's not the only free pair of shoes available. Trippets gives away baby's first shoe. These white leather crib shoes are free for feet sizes three to six months.
And, just as Trippets gives away, they also receive. The store has a shoe shuttle that helps someone have warm feet this winter. "Drop your shoes here to join ours." The shoe shuttle has been an event the store has participated in for years, donating the shoes to various charities. One year, all of the shoes were sent to Africa. Should you have shoes that are in good condition, feel free to drop them off at the shoe shuttle.
The combination of all of these extras keeps adults who shopped at Trippets as children coming back, now for children of their own. The staff said it happens often. Additionally, they receive a lot of guests from out of state. It's this dedicated clientele that has helped this store move into its eighth decade.
The staff greets you at the door and works patiently with children while measuring their little feet and ensuring the proper shoe size. Play areas and toys are sprinkled throughout the store.
Trippets is open Monday through Saturday, 9am-6pm, with extended evening hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Sundays from 12:30pm to 5:30pm.
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