A Houston Shoe Palace: Mezlan Brings Service and Craftsmanship to an Industry That Can Often Be Pushy
I love shoes, but don't particularly like shopping for them. Crowded stores, impersonal service, and pushy sales personnel combine to push me to Zappos.com or another online retailer. A recent experience, however, gave me hope. I paid a visit to theÿMezlanÿstore in The Galleria, and what I encountered there was nothing but exemplary.
First, and most important, the staff at Mezlan know their business inside and out. Jeffrey Steinhardt, who is the company's director of retail and marketing, has been in the shoeÿindustry for 32 years, and his colleagues at the Galleria store have decadesÿofÿexperience between them. (One of the sales associates at the storeÿeven comes from a shoe family: His father once worked with Steinhardt and nowÿsellsÿfootwear for another store in Houston.)
Have a question about proper fit? You'll get an expert answer at Mezlan. Puzzled about caring for your investment? Have no fear, because these professionals know their polish, brushes and shoe trees. (I was impressed with the care and attention Steinhardt's team displayed; a commission is not their driving motivator. It was actually a pleasant shopping experience.)
Then there are the shoes themselves. Mezlan's wares, whoseÿstylesÿcan be summed up with the wordsÿ"dress" and "sport,"ÿandÿBacco Bucci, the group's more casual line, are all made in Spain, by men and women who have been creating footwear for a long time.ÿI was not familiar with theÿbrand before my visit to the store, and what struck me immediately was the variety. Whether you are looking for a traditional cap toe Oxford or a more daringÿand angular shoe, Mezlan has it. In addition, exotic leathers and skins are featured in abundance, including alligator and crocodile. Boots, buckles, lace-ups, monkstrap, slip-on ? everything is covered. The stitching on the shoes I examined was superb, and the detailingÿ- including lace holes, heels, soles, and tongues - possessed obvious quality.
And speaking ofÿcustomer service, as I was leaving the store,ÿSteinhardt stopped me and made sure I knew about Mezlan'sÿshoe-shine service: Every Friday, the store hosts Mr. P, whose expertise is known far and wide in Houston - he has more than 45 years of experience - and anyone can drop their shoes off for free shines. (Mr. P is there from 12 pm to 6 pm, but you can leave your shoes there at any time and retrieve them later.)
Mezlan opened its first retail boutique in 2008 inÿThe Palazzo Hotelÿin Las Vegas, and nowÿhasÿsix locations, including Chicago and Atlanta.