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Skip's Kicks shoe store hopes to leave a footprint on Clear Lake
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Skip's Kicks shoe store hopes to leave a footprint on Clear Lake

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The germ of the idea came from a triathlon in Waverly.

Clear Lake resident Jo Shannon had competed in the event there and spent time at a business owned by a family friend.

On the car ride back, she and her wife, Carrie, discussed what form their very own business would take if they decided to pursue one. It didn't take long to settle on a shoe store.

Skip's Kicks

Jo Shannon, left, and Carrie Shannon, right, are working toward opening a new shoe store in Clear Lake by Memorial Day weekend. The couple said that they intend to focus in particular on selling high-end running shoes and are building the business from the ground up.

"I’ve always been an avid shoe lover and have the closet to prove it," Jo said. "We talked about it after we left the triathlon, said it would be the perfect fit for Clear Lake and then took it and ran with it." 

By Memorial Day weekend, that race will be complete and Jo and Carrie will be running Skip's Kicks, based off of a childhood nickname, on Main Avenue in downtown Clear Lake in a space held by Emerson's until the end of April. The focus will be on high-end running shoes, possibly including product from the Swiss-based On shoe company, and footwear offerings for kids.

"Kids' shoes are the big thing because they’re hard to find out here," Jo said.

Before she was making calls to vendors and searching for an ideal storefront with Carrie, who runs Hall Realty, Jo worked for the sheriff's office for 13 years. 

"She worked 10 p(.m.) to 6 a shift, I was home alone with our 3-year-old and she just kept saying how great it would be if she could just not work nights anymore and I agreed with her. Quit your job, we’ll figure it out, it’ll be fine," Carrie said. 

Along with the triathlon inspiration, Jo said she gravitated toward shoes because she actually spent time working for Brown's Shoe Fit Co., Finishline and MC Sports in Mason City before she started work in law enforcement. When that ended in November, the push for a shoe store to call her own got serious. 

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"(That's when I) really started to put my nose to the ground and move forward," she said.

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Jo said she's trying to keep the work she's doing, with help from Carrie, as independent as possible. Which means she's the one calling the vendors from the scratch. She and Carrie were the ones to contact the owner of the building they'll be occupying. When the time comes to take possession of that space on May 1, they'll be redoing some of the insides themselves.

"I’m big on pride and don’t want to say that was my idea based off of someone else. I want it to be my idea or our idea. I want it to come from us and be everything we put our hearts into," Jo said.

In the month-plus before the store opens, Jo and Carrie not only have to finalize their vendors (which can be difficult right now because some are required to see the space and with COVID they’re not traveling right now) but they have to repaint the place, change out the lights, roll out new carpet and put up a new decorative wall. 

"It’s going to be completely different," Jo said. 

She shared that she's more than a little bit nervous for opening day to come, but also excited. That excitement is buoyed by the local interest she said she's seen from those in the community, her wife's support and a firm belief that this is what she needs to be doing right now.

"It’s not an easy time to start your own business, but if you don’t jump, you’ll never fly."

What a Globe Gazette News+ membership can do for you:

  • A deeper examination of local issues than you'll find anywhere else.
  • Two products in one – not everything that's in the print edition of the Globe Gazette is on our website, and not everything on our website is in the print edition.
  • Access to newspapers.com archives dating back two years.
  • The ability to carry your local news with you and receive alerts instantly as news unfolds.
  • Advertising that frequently gets you deals you won't find anywhere else.

You can join here (https://bit.ly/2PtWJs1) for as little as $5 a month.

Jo Shannon, who is behind the forthcoming Skip's Kicks in Clear Lake, shares when she plans to open, what the store will focus and what it'll mean for the community.

Jared McNett covers local government for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at Jared.McNett@globegazette.com or by phone at 641-421-0527. Follow Jared on Twitter at @TwoHeadedBoy98.

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