Shoe fits for 30 years at Glencoe accessory boutique
From left to right: Brandi Secher, Bill Oppenheim and Sherrie Oppenheim, own and operate Shirise, a Glencoe shoe and accessory boutique. | Jackie Pilossoph~for Sun-Times Media
341 Park Ave., Glencoe
Updated: February 5, 2013 12:38PM
GLENCOE — Sherrie Oppenheim is her real name, but a lot of customers who shop at Shirise, the Glencoe shoe and accessory boutique she started 30 years ago, call her “Sherrie Shoes.”
“She remembers their shoe sizes and she searches for shoes that she knows they’ll like,” said Oppenheim’s daughter, Brandi Secher, who has worked for the business since 1989. “She completes people’s outfits and she cares about every little detail.”
Oppenheim is no stranger to retail. Growing up in Chicago, her parents owned a dress store. She also worked in the shoe department at Neiman Marcus for eight years, where at one point she received an award for the third highest producing company employee in the nation.
“I have relationships with my customers and I learn what they want,” said Oppenheim, who with her husband, Bill, raised their children in Morton Grove. They now live in Northbrook. “We make people happy with our service and the passion we have for shoes and purses.”
Shirise carries high end shoes and boots, with at least 1000 pair on display. The store also sells handbags, belts, jewelry, scarves, and wallets.
Secher is a buyer and manager for the store, and said when it comes to deciding what shoes to carry, she looks for fit.
“We care about the shoe being comfortable,” she said. “We do sell higher heels, but we have the lower heel and mid heel version of that shoe so you can actually walk and dance and be comfortable.”
Secher said shoes and other accessories can also be substitutes for new clothing, especially when customers don’t care for the current year’s clothing style and trends.
“You can always update last year’s outfit with new shoes, new handbags and new jewelry,” said Secher, “Instead of buying new clothing, some people will spice it up with new accessories. New shoes make a dress feel new.”
Shawna Drobny, of Glencoe, has been shopping at Shirise for years, and said she probably owns 15 pairs of shoes from the store.
“The sales associates are phenomenal,” she said. “They remember what you like, they make great suggestions, and they always have the most current and fashionable trends.”
“The sales people are truthful and patient and they will tell you even if a shoe doesn’t look right or fit you right,” said customer, Angela Giterman of Northbrook, “I appreciate that.”
“You may not always be able to fit in a dress, but you can always fit in a shoe,” said Oppenheim, who in 1994 received the “Retailer of the Year” award by the Italian Trade Council, “People buying shoes are happy.”
When asked why the store has been so successful, even through tough economic years, Oppenheim said it comes down to the staff and personalized service.
“We have a relationship with every customer,” she said, “You walk in here and you can get help right away by someone who knows you and knows what you like. It’s very personal.”
Shirise really is a family business. In addition to Oppenheim and Secher, Oppenheim’s husband, Bill, works for the business, as well as their other daughter, Lori Miller.
“It’s nice to be able to be with your family and know things are being handled,” said Secher. “Sometimes we yell at each other but in two seconds we are laughing about it. It’s really funny.”
Secher said the store wouldn’t be what it is without her mother’s passion, and that her mom cares about every little detail of the business, especially her customers.
“They really know their shoes here,” said Giterman.