Filling Big Shoes, and Even Bigger Dreams
It occurred to Sam Lichtenstein one summer as a kid that perhaps the reason for his growth spurt was that he was intended for larger things. After all, a giant man can’t have an ordinary sized-life, to quote the movie “Big Fish.” So, at the same time Baskin Robbins opened down the street on Los Coyotes Diagonal, Sam opened up a shoe store and offered 13 pairs of brightly colored sneakers. He hung a sign outside that read, “Tenni-Moc’s, 13 Flavors.”
People would come in and say, “Oh I like this lime green shoe, but I’d like it in this size seven wide that I tried on in the pink.”
Sam would reply, “Oh yeah that will be here tomorrow.” As soon as they left, he’d get on the phone and call the guy down at PJ Rubber Company. “Start making a size seven wide in lime green. I’m going to pick them up tonight.”
Sam’s larger-than-life persona and hospitality towards others was the product of legend. His customers loved him because he was so giving and accommodating to others’ foot needs.
That’s how current Tenni-Moc’s owner, Alexandra Maltezos, remembers her grandfather. She tells the story of how he started the comfort shoe store with just 13 pairs of shoes as if it were a fable, but it’s all true.
“He wanted to fit everyone in a pair of comfortable shoes,” Maltezos says. “His goal was to accommodate people. That’s my goal today.”
In mid-May, Tenni-Moc’s hosted the grand opening of its new location, which is about 10 doors down from its previous location in the shopping center on Palo Verde Avenue and Spring Street.
“With the new store, we [implemented] a more open floor plan; it’s going to be a lot easier to walk around,” Maltezos said.
In addition, the new store has the Oofos lounge, a recovery center sponsored by leading recovery footwear brand Oofos.
“After you go for a run or after a hard day’s work, come relax in the lounge, sit down, massage your feet, have some coffee or water. It’s going to be great,” Maltezos said. “We will have lots of tools for recovery because let’s face it, all of our feet hurt at some point.”
Maltezos says that people suffering from foot conditions draw many into her store. However, when doctors tell their patients they need to wear orthopedic shoes, it can sound “hideous” to patients.
“Because there’s this really bad connotation with orthopedic shoes, I’ve tried to make it my goal to prove that comfort shoes don’t have to be ugly. Having orthopedic shoes just helps you work better...there are a lot of comfortable and cute shoes that will offer young professionals a better experience,” Maltezos reiterated.
The selection at Tenni-Moc’s is outstanding. Maltezos points out that three-quarters of her grandpa’s store was stock room with only a quarter of it being a showroom. The new location is even bigger. In other words, Tenni-Moc’s has come a long way since those 13 pairs of shoes offered originally. Maltezos still has customers, one lady in her late 90s, whom her grandpa served at the start.
“She doesn’t come out to the store anymore, but her kids pick up her shoes for her and they are now my customers. We have generations of families that are still coming to Tenni-Moc’s and I get to hear all these cool stories about my grandpa,” Maltezos said.
Today, Maltezos works with many podiatrists in the area, helping take care of post-op patients who visit her store. She helps where she can, fitting them for orthopedics, foot braces, and prosthesis. She wants to be accommodating to any and all feet, just like grandpa Sam.
For more information about Tenni-Moc’s and to browse their selection, visit http://www.tenni-mocs.com/