Tenni-Mocs with Alex Maltezos
Alex Maltezos is the owner of Tenni-Mocs Shoe Store! She is in charge of marketing, customer service, and buying product.
Your Company, Their Mission Statement
Tenni-Mocs Shoe Store specializes in comfort shoes and fitting. Our founder, my grandpa, brought properly fitting shoes to his friends and family in sunny Long Beach CA in 1962! Without our loyal clientele, community and village we couldn't keep doing what we're doing. So let's keep this good thing going, let's keep our money where our heart is.
As an owner, I do most everything haha. I organize media for our marketing gal, I buy (more like "chase" this past year) product for the store. I'm also lead sales, so I provide healthy information on all products, and well calculated suggestions for problems and ailments. I am a fantastic bridge to the medical community, my 20 years experience enables me to have a conversation about serious medical issues and make the whole processes approachable. Being so close to the customer enables us to buy specifically for each individual problem. It's easy to feel alone after these last couple of years but 9 times out of 10 and easy fix it right in your neighborhood. Multi door chains and """orthotic""" stores (note the amount of quotes) have mediocratized my industry and I still believe in people. Caring is a burden I have shouldered and will gladly continue as long as the community needs me.
What sort of purpose do you feel in your job and/or why do you believe your line of work is important and meaningful?
Unfortunately specialized retail is shrinking before our eyes. This is a generational problem, now we have multiple generations that have not been taught how important and intricate local economy is. We get younger folks to Gen X in here that just use us for information and proceed to buy online. Not only is this insulting and a direct reflection of how little respect people we live on this earth with have been taught but it's daunting. Multiple generations have learned that employees at retail locations are just cogs in a machine. Our store is not set up this way- nor should it be- we only eat if you buy products. This enables sales people to actually form bonds and long standing relationships, you should be able to trust who you are buying products from. You should know that this business has paid taxes, provided for the community, and gone without just to keep the door open. You should know that Amazon doesn't give a ish about your kid or his PTA, we do though. We want your kid to succeed and we don't even know him. It's unsettling to see so many of the charities, teams and PTA's not shop at the local businesses that pulled out of pocket to make their lives a little easier. We still have a group of 40-50ish year old guys that loyally shop with us because my grandpa sponsored their little league team, I can only hope to inspire a group of kids to remember me and shop here when I'm old. My work is important because the future of local economy is important, I believe in your kids, I hope that I can inspire parents to teach their kids to understand how important local brick and mortar small businesses are.
What is the most exciting part of your day-to-day work?
Seeing my awesome customers! The other ones can use our site for all I care haha. There is absolutely a demographic that can just get online- listen if you know so much more than me, if you don't want to be responsible for your purchasing, if you're lacking so much control in your life that you need to sift through the infinite black hole of information out there- more power to ya- get your as online, it's perfect for you. Gimme the folks that actually want help, they're my people.
What do you think the future of your industry looks like, let's say in 15 years? What impact will it be making? How will it be different from what you do now?
My industry, the shoe industry, will keep chugging. Unfortunately it looks more like multi door chains, owners that base needs on dollar amounts not on what the sales force asks for, therefore what the customer needs. Bigger stores will always bank on consumers ignorance and want (notice i said "want, not "need") for presumed conveniences. Amazon banked on the consumers selfishness, oh I said it, and they're winning. Nordstroms and Macy's banks on mediocrity, oh I said that too. Fortunately, Shoes will always need to be tried on, for every 10 pairs purchased online and then subsequently returned an old shoe dog earns a new customer. We (shoe fitters) have a shot but its harder every year. I can tell you we don't think you're cookie cutter, we've been perfecting this art for 100's of years and maintained evolving with you so- pat on our back, we'll extend that kind of compassion when you walk in the door.
When did you decide you wanted to enter this field? What steps did you take to make that decision a reality?
I decided I wanted to stay in this field when my grandpa fell ill with brain cancer. I felt the draw to community and embodied what it meant to keep a dream alive. Mostly tears, haha just kidding. Breaking your own boundaries is hard, once i knocked that chip off my shoulder and embraced the business and customers I was in a happier, easier to maintain space.
For any students, age 12-18 who thinks your job sounds interesting, what advice would you give them to help them learn/train/explore your field?
Since there are so little of us left and most old shoe dogs that still "work the floor" are grouches that forget about future generations, an apprenticeship might be a great option. I offer super entry level merchandising position options for high schoolers. I'm diversifying my shop to get more heads in here, I've learned that younger people are actually pretty darn smart and not encumbered by bad habits. Fortunately, big retail has chewed and spit out so many kids they just want a job that respects them- I can do that! In short, start from the ground level, if the owner is thinking of the future they will guide you to where you belong and will excel.
Are there any organizations, communities, or movements that create synergy between you and others in your field, here in the city of Long Beach?
The gals at the Long Beach Assistance League are really amazing, also the staff at the ASPCA Village, Eldorado Nature Center staff. Our greatest referral network ends up being word of mouth at work and neighborhoods.
What make Long Beach a great place to live and work as it relates to your industry?
This is the biggest little city, no literally- it's huge. I still get new folks in everyday, we can only hope to provide such a good experience that our new friends introduce us to even more new friends. Fortunately it usually pays off. In terms of the industry- Long Beach is quite central to many other cities and and borders with Orange County so we get a healthy mix of customers and referrals.