Worried About Trying on Shoes In-Store? This Brand Has a Quirky Solution

Samantha McDonald

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As it gradually reopens its doors to the public, Keen has taken extra safety measures to help keep its employees and customers safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The footwear and accessories retailer announced this week the in-store installation of its “Fit Shields” — ultra-clear vinyl plastic barriers that protect against coughs, sneezes and communicable diseases like COVID-19 while still allowing workers to consult and fit shoppers. The lightweight, six-foot-tall frames can be easily moved by store associates to any area around the store and works for stool-height service during footwear try-ons.

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“It’s important for us to recognize the new norms and be mindful of the human interactions inherent within our footwear business,” general manager Chris Heffernan said in a statement. “The Fit Shield offers peace of mind and an additional level of safety for retailers and shoppers alike.”

The launch of Fit Shield comes two months after the conclusion of the Portland, Ore.-based company’s Together We Can Help initiative, which was introduced in late March and centered on charitable efforts toward communities impacted by the health crisis. It pledged to provide up to 100,000 pairs — or about $10 million in shoes — to workers on the front lines and families navigating the outbreak. It also converted a production line at its factory in Thailand to make non-medical, cloth face masks from upcycled materials sourced from its shoes.

Beyond the barriers, which were available in limited quantities to its retailers in June, Keen said it has limited the number of shoppers allowed inside its locations at a single time and encourages those who enter its outposts to wear personal protective equipment.

“We’ve been talking about what it looks like to safely transition our employees back into the workplace while also determining what kinds of personal protective equipment we can offer,” said Doug Sorenson, president of Haney Shoe Stores in Omaha, Neb., which carries Keen shoes, as well as those of other brands like Birkenstock, New Balance and Dansko. “Our customers trust us for their footwear choices, and it’s awesome to be able to offer a safe option for finding their fit with Keen.”

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