THINK LOCAL: Owners of Olson’s Foot Health and Shoe Service puts heart, sole into their work

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Edwin Olson Sr. and his wife of 58 years, Diane Olson, are the fourth generation of the family to run the store. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group) Photo credit: Dalton Wainscott

Nestled in the narrow alley between Jimmy John’s and O’Malley’s in Aggieville, unknowing passersby might miss Olson’s Foot Health and Shoe Service at first glance.

However, the big, yellow “Olson’s BIRKENSTOCK” sign down the alley may pique some interest.

The hidden gem offers many shoe amenities including sole and heel replacement, shoe cleaning and stretching and off-the-shelf orthotics as well as services for other items.

Olson’s provides stitching repair for purses, backpacks, bags and flags while also supplying other amenities like shortening belts, replacing zippers and elastic and adding or replacing Velcro.

To top it all off, Olson’s workers will stretch, polish, clean and condition your shoes.

Edwin Olson Sr. and his wife of 58 years Diane Olson are the fourth generation of the family to run the store.

Around 1889, Peter Olson opened Olson’s Shoe Repair at 224 Poyntz Ave. The store has been passed down from father to son ever since.

Little shelves display the different options of Birkenstock sandals.
Little shelves display the different options of Birkenstock sandals. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group) Photo credit: Dalton Wainscott

After a few location changes, the store planted its roots in the heart of Aggieville, adjacent to O’Malley’s Alley.

One significant development the store has made within the past few decades is the sale of some familiar sandals. Olson Sr. and his son get a lot of business selling and fixing Birkenstocks as well as a lot cowboy boots.

Edwin Olson Jr. mends the sole of a cowboy boot
Edwin Olson Jr. mends the sole of a cowboy boot. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group) Photo credit: Dalton Wainscott

Addie Terrill, sophomore in kinesiology and Manhattan native, said practically every “townie” knows Olson Sr.

“He is a professional at his job,” she said. “His customer service was outstanding, and [he] helped me fit my Birks perfectly to my feet. He also gave me options to pick from, which I loved.”

For some customers, trips to Olson’s for shoe repairs are a recurring event.

“Dogs can make a mess out of a shoe,” Diane Olson said. “Some are repeat offenders. We have this one lady that’s been in about four times now.”

A pair of shoes await mending treatment.
A pair of shoes await mending treatment in the back of the shop. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group) Photo credit: Dalton Wainscott

The Olsons sometimes find that customers need their help more than they expect.

“A lot of times, the doctors send people to me just to have a heart-to-heart talk about getting the right shoe to help with posture,” Olson Sr. said.

Olson Sr., who is also a trained pedorthist, has made it a point to keep himself educated to make himself an expert in his service.

To fully understand the business he runs, Olson Sr. went to school at Ball State University in his early forties.

“I got a piece of paper on the back wall [of the shop] that says I’m a certified pedorthist — now I know stuff,” he said.

From 1889 to today, Olson’s has made quite a name for itself. With the option to mail items in for repair, both local and out-of-town customers can receive services from the family business.

The store’s growing popularity won’t stop the Olson’s from giving out wise shoe advice with a smile.

Visit the store website for more information on hours and other services.

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Sean Schaper
My name is Sean Schaper, and I'm the assistant news editor for the Collegian. I’m a junior in journalism with a secondary focus in film studies. I grew up right outside of Kansas City in Leawood, Kansas. As a first-generation K-Stater, I look forward to leaving behind accurate coverage for the current and future Wildcat community.