Decades of family footwear shops thrive on Queen St. E.

Nature’s Footwear was established 40 years ago this year by Lois Coston (left) and her business partner Wilhelmina (right) shown in their shop in this undated photo. PHOTO: Contributed

Kyle and Janice Burden, the owners of local business Nature’s Footwear at the corner of Waverley Road and Queen Street East, are celebrating 40 years of operation this year.

Janice’s mother, Lois Coston, opened the shoe store on the same corner of Queen Street in 1978 with her business partner Wilhelmina. When Lois passed in 2004, Kyle and Janice continued the legacy she started.

The family says they “hope we can stay here and continue to give good service to people in the Beach. We have a very loyal clientele.”

They are excited to celebrate 40 years of Nature’s Footwear, and Kyle says there is talk of getting a cake and having a party to mark the occasion.

Another family-owned shoe shop, Corso Shoes on Queen East, has been at their same spot in the Beach for over 30 years. Gerald MacDonald, the manager of Corso for over 20 years, said they “went from selling old-fashion leather-soled dress shoes to recently selling more casual and comfortable styles.”

Corso Shoes is keeping up with the trend Nature’s Footwear has set in the Beach with their large stock of shoes with a relaxed fit, such as Birkenstocks.

Kyle and Janice are known for selling Birkenstocks on Queen East and they are only one of three stores in Toronto to carry the brand.

“Birkenstocks are totally orthotic so it will give you the full support that you need,” said Kyle. “I tell you, once people put them on, they become so used to them that it’s the only thing they can wear.”

He receives client referrals from sports clinics and chiropractors in the area.

Nature’s Footwear is pivotal in the neighbourhood, and you can purchase shoes from many other popular brands such as Reebok, Sperry Top-Sider, Skechers, Sorel, and Keds.

The couple says they supply the Beach with what residents want and they pay close attention to the needs of their customers, as it’s an ever-changing market.

“There is a sense of pride that we’ve been able to stay in this location for this long considering all the businesses that have closed in the area,” said Kyle. “We can attribute this to good service, and friendly connections.”

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