'The price was crazy': Wichita shoemaker struggles with inflation impact
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE)- A Wichita shoemaker said she's struggling to keep up as inflation and its impact takes a toll of her longtime business.
Aida Stenholm owns and operates her own self-titled shoe store located in Wichita's Clifton Square. She said it's a venture she's been passionate about for years, and that she took the challenge on nearly a decade ago.
"At one point when I was young I said I want to be a shoemaker," said Stenholm.
Stenholm said her small business has seen the typical challenge most other owners have faced in recent years like the pandemic, supply chain issues and rising cost for just about everything.
"I had a particular customer that she wanted her shoes to match with her purse, and I had enough material only for her purse," said Stenholm. "So I said, OK, I'm going to order the material for your shoes. When I tried to order it the price was crazy."
Stenholm said the biggest expense has been the price of leather, which a majority of her handmade shoes, bags and accessories she sells are made out of. She said she's seen a record high of up to 30% more than she usually pays in some cases. While, she's been able to get by to some degree, Stenholm said she'll have to raise prices soon and make business changes to stay afloat. She also told KAKE News that it can be fairly difficult to motivate customers to buy her products when they're already struggling with their own problems caused by record high inflation in 2022.
"Shoes are not a priority thing that you have to buy," said Stenholm. "The prices, you know what I mean, with the prices coming up the last thing you want to buy is shoes."
Stenholm said she's still thankful for her loyal customers that have continued to shop at her store regardless of ongoing price hikes, but that there's only so much any one business owner can take.
"Right now there's still people coming in, people start shopping," said Stenholm. "But not like usually, like before, not like that."
Stenholm said she'll be prioritizing online sales in 2023, if you'd like to support her, click here.