New business a shoe in on Front Street

"POULSBO - There's an old saying in the business: If the shoe fits, wear it. This saying may very well have dual meanings for Brian Ballestrasse of Lemolo and could also read: If the shoe business fits, buy it. So, when Sluys Shoes was put up for sale, the seven-year veteran manager from Nordstrom's simply couldn't pass the opportunity up. Ballestrasse had visited Little Norway before and said, I always really liked the town and community here. While searching for a home here though, he was forced to make the dreaded Edmonds-Kingston commute each morning. Although traffic backups for the ferry are notorious, Ballestrasse said they weren't unbearable in his case. At least I was going in the right direction, he explained with a smile and a shrug. "

“POULSBO – There’s an old saying in the business: If the shoe fits, wear it. This saying may very well have dual meanings for Brian Ballestrasse of Lemolo and could also read: If the shoe business fits, buy it. So, when Sluys Shoes was put up for sale, the seven-year veteran manager from Nordstrom’s simply couldn’t pass the opportunity up. Ballestrasse had visited Little Norway before and said, I always really liked the town and community here. While searching for a home here though, he was forced to make the dreaded Edmonds-Kingston commute each morning. Although traffic backups for the ferry are notorious, Ballestrasse said they weren’t unbearable in his case. At least I was going in the right direction, he explained with a smile and a shrug. The Ballestrasse family relocated here in mid-August though, ending the long business commute altogether. While Brian, his wife Leslie, three-year-old son Joseph and four-month-old daughter Catherine are currently renting in Lemolo, he said the growing family was definitely hoping to purchase a home in the area. We’ve been looking for a nice community with good schools and great people for quite some time now, Ballestrasse said. We couldn’t ask for anything better. Although the couple are both Washington natives, they agree that Kitsap County is one of the nicer places either has lived. Ballestrasse said he hoped to create a shoe store here that will turn heads, or rather feet, in this direction from miles around. I hope to make this the best comfort shoe store in the state, he said with an easy smile before revising his statement. No, really, I want to make this the best comfort shoe store in the Northwest. The store was owned for many years by local businessman Marion Sluys. Sluys, Ballestrasse explained, is a business partner with his father-in-law. His mother-in-law, Linda Hallman, has created a beautiful shoe sign for the front of the store. While Ballestrasse said he planned to ultimately make changes at the well- established shop, he admitted, that they will be quite subtle at first. In addition to footwear, the store sells bags, purses, wallets and, of course, socks. We’ll be carrying a lot of the same brands, but we’ll have more emphasis on Clarkes and Birkenstocks, he said, noting that Birks have become famous world-wide as orthopedic shoes which mold to the shape of the owner’s feet. Much like certain footwear that just seem made for a particular foot, this new downtown merchant seems like he was made to work on Front Street. The shoe definitely fits at Ballestrasse’s. A grand opening is planned at the store Oct. 6-8. “

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