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At Footwear Insight, we’ve been honoring the best of the best independent retailers with the Gold Medal Service Award for Outstanding Customer Service annually since 2015. In 2020, we took a pause because conducting our in-store mystery shop was not viable (or fair) during the height of COVID’s impact on everyone’s business. This year, it’s back to business, as we once again are honoring retailers across the nation. And in our eyes, the recipients of the 2021 Gold Medal Service Awards all deserve an extra gold star. Not only do they deliver outstanding service to the shoppers who visit their stores, they are also managing to do it in the midst of some current challenges that we couldn’t have predicted when we last handed out the awards in 2019.

The 2021 Gold Medal Service Award winning retailerseach have unique stories and strategies, but they all shareat least a few things in common — an understanding of and appreciation of customer service, and the ingenuity and dedication required to thrive in turbulent times.

Kudos to all of the honorees.

The award selection process began earlier this year — after screening the nominations and “mystery shopping” the stores, 70 stores earned a score worthy of the Gold Medal honor in 2021. Turn to page 32 to see the criteria for our mystery shoppers. We have 16 first-time award winners this year — congratulations and welcome to the newcomers! Turn to page 33 to see the list of new faces.

Since 2015, there are nine standout stores who have been on the list every single year. These retailers can be called the “Consistently Consistent” crew. See that list on page 29. This year, the top scoring store on the list is Reyers Shoe Store. This family-owned store had quite a moving year (literally). The store moved from a town it had been in for more than 130 years, and is now thriving in a new location. Check out their story on page 24. For a look at the full list of the 2021 Gold Medal Service Award winning retailers, turn to page 34