For Lisa and Ron Rider, opening a small business focused on artisan, high quality shoes seemed only natural.
Lisa says Ron had always looked into opening their own store and in 2011 they launched an online retail site. Five years later, in mid-November, the couple opened their first brick-and-mortar shop in Richmond’s arts district at 18 W Broad St.
Prior to launching their namesake brand, Ron worked within the shoe industry for 30 years, and was the longtime buyer of women’s and men’s shoes for Franco’s Fine Clothiers.
Ron’s own father retired from the shoe industry after working with Johnson & Murphy and Allen Edmonds for five decades.
Lisa said she thinks the location of the store is ideal for a number of reasons, but a huge factor has been the welcoming nature of the local business.
“The restaurants, the (Quirk) hotel, the shops — they’ve all come over and greeted themselves,” she said. “They’ve sent customers, they visit. It’s a great location and neighborhood.”
Lisa donned a pair of shoes from their 2016 Fall Collection: a dark brown, wing-style oxford, but with a thicker sole than the traditional shoe.
“This, to me, is an everyday, all-year look,” she said. “I can wear it with a summer dress or jeans. Our style tends to go with denim wear.”
Lisa’s description speaks to the core mission of Rider Boot Shop — to provide everyday people with high quality shoes that accomodate various seasons and last for years.
“We source from seven or eight factories,” Lisa said. “Some of the shoes we order directly because we really like the style. But generally tend to design and curate the shoes. Change the sole, the color, the lace — we make it (our) own.”
Lisa explained that Ron traveled extensively as part of his job buying shoes for Franco’s. His experience allowed the couple to expertly choose Milan as the production base for their company.
“American fashion is very trend-based, it’s disposable fashion,” Lisa said. “The timeline (to order from Milan) is a lot longer, and if it’s made to order there is a slight upcharge (…) but it is the best product.”
The Riders wanted the shoes to be the center of attention of their shop and showcase the artistry of the shoes themselves.
With bare walls, light brown counters, plant accents, antique light fixtures from a 1940’s school house and an extravagant gold framed mirror — Rider Boot Shop has an authentic, woodsy, minimalist ambiance.
A small, charming kitchen, a home office creates a feeling of welcoming comfort. But beyond the aesthetics, what stands out about the shop is the feeling of home, and Lisa enthusiastically welcomes people into the store.
“I don’t like going to a boutique shop and feeling judged with an attitude — we don’t do that here,” Lisa said, “I tell people who come in what we’re about and if they like it they want to know more and if not, it’s ok.”
Before the couple started Rider Boots, Lisa worked various jobs that allowed her to “put the kids on the bus and then be back when they got off.” Her experience working in different job sectors also provided her with the ability to utilize multiple skillsets in the couple’s new business venture.
“We wanted to wait until the youngest of our kids had graduated high school — you still need stability and income and all that,” Lisa said.
She said above all else, though, her experience raising three children makes her the ultimate multitasker.
The Riders three sons also play an important role in the store, particularly their eldest son, Jeff.
“I have always had a close relationship with my parents so it makes it easier to go to work each day knowing that we are all on the same page and have a common interest to keep improving to get to where we want to be,” Jeff said.
While he didn’t initially see himself going into the industry as his father and grandfather had, he explained that as the business grew, “I was needed more and more so by the time they needed someone full-time it made my decision an easy one.”
Rider Boot website was tailored towards men and they are now developing their women’s stylee, but Lisa said she has no doubt that as they establish themselves more into the community and expand their customer base they will grow stronger in the women’s market.
Siona is a senior majoring in political science with a concentration in international relations and a double minor in media studies and Arabic and Middle Eastern studies. She is heavily influenced by her family’s immigrant background and often writes about the intersection of politics with identity. Siona is an advocate for grassroots activism and political movements, and her dream job involves multimedia-based investigative journalism. She has a plethora of life goals but is only focusing on two right now: learning as many languages as possible and perfecting her Instagram aesthetic. firstname.lastname@example.org