By Susan Elise Campbell
Divine Sole is “soon to be the best sneaker store north of Albany,” said Ryan Smalley, owner of a new shop opening at The Marketplace, 454 Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs.
Smalley registered his LLC in November and is anticipating a soft opening the fourth week in May, he said.
This is Smalley’s first venture into the world of retail. He and his wife, Laura, are both financial professionals, with Smalley being an accountant for the past eight years.
“The pandemic changed so much about all of our lives, but change can create opportunity,” he said. “After an unusual year to reflect and consider what long-term changes will come out of this experience, we thought it a good time to try this venture.”
Divine Sole will offer exclusive sneakers along with mainstay brands such as Nike and Adidas, said Smalley. Shoppers will find Air Jordan, Air Max, Gel Lyte, Flight, Kim Jones and other premium labels at the new store.
“We are filling a huge need in Saratoga,” Smalley said. “There is nothing around that offers a line of sneakers like these.”
The shop will also sell skateboards, apparel and related accessories.
Smalley said he felt fortunate to be able to find affordable space on Broadway.
“It’s difficult to be a first-time business and jump to the high rents of a storefront,” he said. “The owner of the Saratoga Marketplace has been a huge supporter of our idea and of small business in general.”
Divine Sole is occupying two side-by-side spaces on the lower level. There were two art galleries in those spaces, both with different decorating styles than what Smalley envisioned to represent his business. He took down the temporary wall that separated the spaces, put in all new flooring and painted the walls white with the assistance of a local painting contractor, Patrick Tangora.
“We wanted the freshest pop look we could and picked a crisp, bright white to give the space the divinity feel,” he said.
When naming the venture, Smalley knew they wanted the shop’s name to incorporate the word “sole” as a starting point. Several word combinations they considered were taken.
“We landed on Divine Sole because it has meaning to our family, and alludes to the passion that many who love and collect sneakers have,” he said. “We’re comfortable with the name and believe it will attract customers.”
A young artist and daughter of a friend, Elizabeth Burdick, is enrolled at the Maine College of Art and they thought she might like to try her hand at designing the company logo, he said.
“Our goal is to grow with the community,“ he said. “Our two sons can see A through Z how retail works and grow right along with it.”
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