The northeast corner of Birmingham and Newcastle is the home of the New Balance shoe store.
Formerly the 7-Eleven, followed by a dry cleaners and a guitar studio, New Balance opened in 2009.
My first impression, when I stopped in to interview store manager Sean Coughlin, was one of a warm, family-like atmosphere and everyone was wearing a smile.
Sean was assistant manager for 2 ½ years and has just been promoted to manager. He was born in San Diego, moved to Minnesota when he was 5 but after high school graduation, being a warm weather person, he came back to California, and lived in Cardiff-by-the-Sea near the store. He saw they needed help — he interviewed and got the job.
He explained that it’s a different kind of shoe store where customers work with one person who is medically trained to fit their particular problem. You are offered bottled water while they are measuring your feet and taking arch scans to find exactly what will best accommodate your situation, this in turn helps develop communication skills and create relationships while getting to know each customer.
Sean, who is still in school, appreciates the opportunity he has in learning to operate a small business.
Each store is independently owned and there are eight in San Diego County as well as other areas throughout the United States. Sean noted there is little turn over in their staff with most being long time employees.
New Balance has a research and development department that is continuously creating new technology for all sorts of foot needs from shoes that strengthen muscles, calves and ankles to supportive shoes that limit foot motion.
Sean has been in San Diego for five years and his family has traded in the Minnesota winters for sunny California to join him. This active family consists of his mother, brother and sister.
Activities that interest Sean are surfing, yoga and playing the guitar. As he settles into his new role as manager, his future plans include reaching out to the community and being more active in sponsoring programs on New Balance footwear.
Lori Turley, Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library technician and a customer of the store for three years, says the shoes feel like slippers, have instant comfort, and wearing them has stabilized her knees. She got a pair for Christmas and received a thank you in the mail for the purchase.
Gabe Aguirre, branch librarian at the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library, shared that New Balance has quality, long lasting shoes that have a great fit. He brought his mother up from San Diego so she could get a pair.
Plan to drop by New Balance, meet Sean and the other friendly folks, get a bottle of water from the tub by the door and be sure to note that they all are sporting New Balance footwear.
New Balance brings comfortable walking shoes to our pedestrian-friendly community, and adds to the many reasons why Cardiff-by-the-Sea is the greatest place to call home.
Does anyone have any history on the old Speedee Mart?
A founding and life member as well as past president and current board member of the of the Friends of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library, Irene has lived here since 1982.