ST. ALBANS CITY — Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel has been helping Vermonters find quality outdoor gear since 1990 when Lenny McCarthy opened the first store in Barre.
Now, Lenny’s has four locations, plus an outlet store and online store, and is co-owned by Lenny’s two sons, Mark and Todd McCarthy. Their St. Albans store opened in 1994, and has been servicing the community ever since.
In late March and early April, a whole new team, including a new manager, assistant manager and part-time associates were hired.
“I feel like we’re really starting to gel together,” said manager Jo Greenslet. “I’ve overheard customers telling my associates, or they told me, ‘Oh my goodness everyone is new here. The vibe in here is just amazing!’ It’s so encouraging to see that sort of flow of energy again and that’s what we’re trying to impart. It’s a happy place to come into. Everybody has a want and a need to help you try to find what you want or need as best as we can.”
Both Greenslet and assistant manager Samantha Coolum have worked together at another store for three years, and were drawn to Lenny’s due to its history in the town as a small, locally owned specialty store.
“I grew up shopping at Lenny’s,” Coolum said. “My family is from the area, so it was always the place we stopped by. The community is great. I love working with a small team, a close team that feels like family. This is a place that has great customer service, and really caters to their customers, and makes sure everyone leaves with a smile and wants to come back to see us. I love getting to know the customers by name so you know who they are and they know who you are.”
Lenny’s is known primarily for selling outdoor shoes, apparel and gear, but they also offer specific work clothes like chef’s clothing and scrubs. They also offer many name brand clothes and shoes like Columbia, Keen and Carhartt.
“There are too many great things to choose from,” Coolum said. “My favorite product at the moment are the Teva sandals I just bought. I’m getting ready for that warmer weather.”
Lenny’s often has deals of the day, along with a sale at least every other week. Their sales range from markdowns on clothes and gear, to raffles where you could win a free pair of sandals.
All Lenny’s locations offer a place to recycle your old shoes. They partnered with Rerun Shoes to keep shoes out of the waste stream by sending the shoes to micro-entrepreneurs. They then refurbish the shoes for reuse and to promote sustainable business in West Africa. Rerun Shoes also partners with Community Enterprises in Massachusetts, a company that hires people with disabilities to work on sorting, grading, packaging and shipping all donated shoes.
“People will bring their old shoes when they’re shopping for new ones and they’ll just put their old ones right beside the box,” Coolum said. “We also have customers that may be going through shoes at home and they’ll come by just to drop them off, and we’ll recycle them and they go to good use for someone who really needs them.”
Lenny’s has also partnered with The Green Mountain Club, which has protected and maintained the Green Mountains and Vermont’s Long Trail System, to create an exclusive sock. About 20 percent of the profits from the sock will be donated to The Green Mountain Club.
The store is enforcing social distancing and masking, and has extra masks on hand to give to those who may have forgotten theirs.
Being able to work at a locally owned store gives Greenslet the opportunity to connect with her customers and her community on a personal level, and that is something she does not take for granted.
“Having grown up in Vermont, community and family are just so important,” Greenslet said. “Having worked in big box versus little stores like this, it’s so important to get to know your community. That’s one of the reasons Sam and I like smaller specialty stores, because you get to know those customers, and they come back based on your level of service and the team that you have in the store. It’s what keeps the community coming back. If you serve them well they’re going to tell their friends and they’re going to come here.”