BARRINGTON – In 1976, Douglas Pekarek “accidentally” got into the shoe business. At the time, Pekarek took notice of what was going on at former retail chain Thom McAn and thought it was exciting. This so-called accident turned into a career that has spanned nearly 40 years and is still going strong.
In November 2003, after working as a children’s shoe buyer, Pekarek bought Young Tootsies, a children’s shoe store in conjunction with women’s shoe store Tootsies which closed as a result of the retirement of owner Nick Fletcher. Pekarek’s Barrington location offered a variety of boys and girls shoes.
In November 2012, Pekarek re-introduced women’s shoes at his location and on March 7 of this year, Tootsies was reborn with a grand re-opening.
“We try hard to be your hometown store,” said Pekarek of Algonquin. “We’ll keep your child’s shopping history so you can come in with or without them and still be able to get their needed size, even if it may have gone up.”
Now operating fully under the name Tootsies from the 3,000-square-foot location, Pekarek offers American and European brands for babies, children and women in a variety of styles and colors from sneakers to formalwear to the unusual. Tootsies has women’s shoes made from tilapia skin and recycled newspaper and girls shoes that come with matching hair ribbons.
“We’ll shop the world for you, so you don’t have to,” said Pekarek. “We’ve got what you won’t find at DSW and we have prices that work for your pocket book.”
Pekarek said the shoe world has changed dramatically since his initial venture into the business with the commonality now-a-days of what he calls the “throwaway” shoe.
“Shoes used to be made out of really nice leather that you would repair rather than get rid of because the shoe would become so customized to your foot, you didn’t want to let it go,” said Pekarek. “Now people go through shoes much faster, but on the upside, there is 100 percent more selection and the cost is more affordable.”
Tootsies is located in Barrington’s Ice House Mall and is open seven days a week serving McHenry and Lake counties. Pekarek said he does not have plans to venture into men’s shoes, but will continue to provide the best product and service for his women and children’s customers.
“We make sure the right product goes on your feet. We care,” said Pekarek.