The annual ritual of back-to-school shopping at Lucky Shoes is making a comeback thanks to smart moms who care—and grandmothers

Lucky Shoes Dsc 9461
The staff at Lucky Shoes is trained and experienced in the use of the Brannock Device. “If a 7 is too small for your child, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should go with a 7½. It may mean you need a 7-wide,” says Lucky Shoes President John Luck. (Photography: Francis Angelone)

By Mitch Allen

When I was a kid, back-to-school shoe shopping was an annual ritual. At age 10, having an adult expert focus exclusively on me and my needs made me feel special. After trying on several pairs, I’d choose one and insist on wearing the shoes out of the store, my old shoes placed neatly into the box the new shoes came in.

Once home, I’d run as fast as I could down the street, convinced my new shoes made me faster and invincible.

Although back-to-school shoe shopping has waned a bit since young moms started listening to Instagram influencers instead of professionals, the annual tradition seems to be coming back.

“These days moms are rediscovering how important high-quality, properly fitting shoes are,” says Emily McCullough, Merchandise Manager for area Lucky Shoes stores. “The renewed interest is being led partly by moms who want their kids to have a happy, healthy childhood—and partly by Grandma.”

“Let’s go shopping, Nana!”
Whether you are called Grandma, Mimi, Meemaw, Nana, Nonna, Granny, Oma or some other term of endearment, you likely have influence in your grandchildren’s lives, especially when it comes to shoes. Today’s grandmas are not apron-clad Aunt Beas with their hair in buns; they are active, engaged and often have more disposable income than their kids. For this story I spoke with a few grandmothers:

“I always buy my grandkids their shoes,” said one Nana. “My daughters are focused mainly on their kids’ nutrition, education and activities. They don’t pay much attention to their feet. The grandkids are growing fast, so I check out their shoes every time I see them, and a few times a year when the shoes are too tight, we head to Lucky.”

Said one Grandma: “I don’t buy my grandsons bicycles or baseball cards. Shoes are our thing. It’s become a ritual. They love shoe shopping with me. And I love knowing they are wearing the right-sized shoe.”

The Importance of Fit
The staff at Lucky Shoes is trained and experienced in fitting kids’ feet, including proper use of the Brannock Device. That’s the contraption that measures the length and width of feet. “This knowledge is essential,” explains John Luck, the stores’ third-generation president. “Because if a 7 is too small for your child, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should go with a 7½. It may mean you need a 7-wide.”

John takes proper fit seriously—and personally. “When I was a kid, my mom threw away my old Nike tennis shoes, but I’d sneak them out of the trash and wear them,” John recalls. “I did it so much I developed Sever’s disease, the most common cause of heel pain in growing kids. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. Honestly, some of the shoes kids are wearing these days are just plain abusive.”

A Better Shoe
At Lucky Shoes, not only will you get a great fit, you will get a better quality shoe.

“Most people don’t realize that manufacturers produce different quality shoes for different retailers,” Emily reveals. “For example, the Stride Rite shoes at Target are not the same shoes we carry. That’s because discount retailers insist on a certain low price point. We don’t. So our shoes are made with better quality materials and are more comfortable.”

It’s Emily’s job to order shoes for the stores, and that includes ensuring students at schools requiring uniforms get exactly what they need. One local school recently switched to requiring all-black tennis shoes after Emily had ordered for the season. “That didn’t matter,” she says. “We’re here to make sure our customers have the right shoe in the right size, so we went over budget and ordered more shoes to meet the new demand.”

Lucky Shoes carries many of today’s top brands, including Stride Rite, New Balance, Saucony, Under Armour, Tsukihoshi, Hush Puppy, Sperry and many more.

“Some girls are growing tired of Mary Janes, so we searched high and low for a shoe that could replace them,” Emily adds. “And we found it. It’s called Geox, an Italian brand with a perforated sole and a waterproof membrane. They breathe a lot better.”

Whether you are a mom, grandma, dad or granddad, you too can join the new trend of back-to-school shoe shopping for a better quality, better fitting shoe. And to help encourage you, Mimi convinced Emily and John to give her readers an exclusive 15% discount. You’ll find the special coupon on this page.

Lucky Shoes stores are in Strongsville, Fairlawn and Canton. Other locations are in Westlake, Columbus, and Mason, Ohio. For more information, visit