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Stand Up and Be Scanned

This little engine has a “magic” floor that can.

Scanning groceries at the check-out is one thing. Getting a three-year-old child to stand still long enough to scan their feet is a whole other challenge. That is, unless they can “drive” a railroad engine while the process is taking place. That’s the idea behind a model train engine in the newly opened Olly Shoes store in Mount Vernon Plaza on Richmond Highway.

“The scanner accurately measures their feet in both U.S. and European sizes while they are standing in the engine pretending to drive. The computer then prints out an ‘Olly slip’ and we match the slip to an actual pair of shoes,” said Joyce Lien, regional manager, Olly Shoes.

Specializing in children’s shoes, Olly has two stores in Canada and now 12 in the United States. The hope is to open 200 stores nationwide. “Although we actually started in Canada, we are incorporated here in the United States and have many more stores here,” she said.

The 2,000 square feet store in Mount Vernon Plaza on Route 1, is the first to open in Virginia. There are two in Maryland — Hunt Valley, north of Baltimore off Interstate 83, and in Kensington.

“We are delighted to open a new location in the Washington area. We are confident that Olly Shoes will become a must-shop destination for parents interested in outfitting children in the best shoes in the right size,” said Katherine Chapman, CEO of Olly Shoes.

“Our process scans the foot and gives an exact size, both as to length and width of the foot. The hand-held metal measurer is not exact. The scanner does it in millimeters,” Lien explained.

“This also eliminates trying on a lot of shoes and asking if they feel okay or not. Once the Olly Slip is printed a customer can also order exact shoe sizes from their home computer. However, by coming to the store they get the added benefit of actually trying the shoes on,” she said.

Known as “OllyScan,” when combined with the database system known as “OllyFit,” the system allows customized fitting for each child. The data is then matched to each style of every brand available. The scanned-in foot image is saved and the customer is given an OllyFit number.

Olly Shoes is also introducing the new “FitStop” program that “promises an even better fitting shoe.” Since children’s feet grow an average every three to four months, especially from birth to age 12, Olly customers will be notified via e-mail after four months from their last footwear purchase to stop into the nearest location to have their children’s footwear checked, according to Matt Hagan, vice president, EIN Communications for Olly Shoes.

FOLLOWING THEIR SOFT OPENING this past weekend, the new store is planning a week-long celebration as part of the Grand Opening on Saturday, April 7, beginning at 10 a.m. The festivities will commence Friday at 7 p.m. with “Snuggles the Clown.”

A variety of events are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday throughout both days until 5 p.m. Events will continue into the week taking place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, April 11 and 13, and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, April 12 and 14.

Olly Shoes offers a variety of children’s medium to high-end quality shoes, with choices in athletic, casual, school, dress, party, specialty and seasonal styles. Olly also carries many name brands such as Aster, Reebok, New Balance, G. H. Bass, Ecco and many others as well as some clothing and fun accessories.

In order to serve children in need, Olly has an extensive shoe donation program where parents bring gently worn shoes to their stores and Olly donates them. More than 18,000 shoes have passed through this program.

Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Olly Shoes is the creation of Staples founder, Tom Stemberg, and Chapman, founder of Timeposters, Inc. Both Stemberg, the father of four sons, and Chapman, the mother of three daughters, see Olly’s as a “solution for parents seeking to streamline the difficult process of buying shoes for growing children.”

Dr. Steven F. Boc, director, Foot and Ankle Surgical Training, Hahnemann Hospital, Philadelphia, Penn., views the human foot as “a complex mechanical wonder, consisting of 26 bones and 35 joints.” He believes, “Taking steps to allow a child’s feet to grow and develop properly can prevent serious adult problems.”