Thursday, March 17, 2005

Detroit Free Press Article: Specialty shoe shop steps up on Northwestern

It was a chance meeting during a mountainside hike in Arizona three years ago that led Clare Bushman (Photo: Left) and her sister-in-law, Ellen Bushman, to open their new business in Southfield: A Spring in Your Step.

The store at 29775 Northwestern Highway, which opened in August 2003, sells only Z-Coil shoes, which provide pain relief for people suffering from back, knee and other health ailments. In essence, the shoe has a spring in the heel, which is designed as a shock absorber to take pressure off bones and alleviate pain.

Clare Bushman, 48, who has arthritis, was hiking in Arizona, sat down on a rock to rest when she spotted another hiker practically flying down the mountainside wearing the unique-looking Z-Coil shoes. When she inquired about the shoes, the runner explained how much pain he had been in until he started wearing them.

She purchased a pair of the shoes and was immediately sold.

But the shoes aren't cheap -- from $179 to $209 per pair.

Ellen Bushman, 50, says the store has found a ready-made market in doctors, nurses, casino workers -- people who spend a lot of time standing. And for those who don't want the coils in the heels to show, they can be covered. The shoe has an orthotic insert to make sure it is fitted properly.

There are about 225 authorized Z-Coil shoe dealers in the United States.

To get started, the Bushmans came up with $100,000 for the store and inventory. There was some customer curiosity at first, but word of mouth soon took over and the shoes started selling quickly, Ellen says.

Z-CoiL Southfield Testimonial


To begin with I suffer from two painful diseases, Diabetes, Neuropathy. Neuropathy affects my lower nerve extremities, and there is no cure for this disease.

A year ago I started walking with a cane working in retail on a cement floor. I was sent home on several occasions because of the leg pain and I couldn't stand.

I visited a well-known foot doctor and after several tests and foot scans it was prescribed to purchase special shoes and purchase orthotics, which didn't work. Then I was told there was nothing that could be done.

I was forced to retire with the diagnosis of cancer, and the upcoming surgery. While in recovery my wife and I started visiting Gilda's Club a cancer support group.

I would struggle into Gilda's in pain and could barely walk, One of the volunteers and a member was talking about these funny looking shoes.

I started by researching on the Z-Coil website. We decided to visit the Spring In Your Step store to find out about these funny looking shoes. (more)

Jack T. Lightcap

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