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It’s a “G” Thing: Ritch Erani overcomes life’s hurdles to create CHUCKiES high-end shoe salon

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Pumps. Peep-toes. Platforms.

Just a glimpse of the selection here at CHUCKiES New York.

“What I love about this store is you can find things that are unique," Cheyenne Roeloffs, customer, said.

“We want our customers to come in here and find the best of the best,” Ritch Erani, owner, said.

It's a high-end shoe salon started 35 years ago by Ritch Erani.

I can forecast what I think is going to be hot in fashion, what people are going to want,” he said.

But this fashionisto didn't always live a life of glitz, glam and Gucci.

“My father did die when I was very young," Erani said. "My father was 47 when he died, I was 10. It was tough, it’s not easy I didn’t know it at the time because that’s all I knew but as I got older I saw my friends going into their dad’s businesses and to college and that wasn’t really in the cards for me so I wound up dropping out of school.”

Which left him with few options. So, he worked here and there before teaming up with his brother to start their own company.

“Why it was a shoe store was my brother was the shoe buyer for our cousins,” Erani explained.

Their cousins are a couple of the guys who founded the local retail chain we now know as Strawberry.

“I was very young, I didn’t think it was what I wanted to do, I was very unhappy, and thought I wanted to do something else," Erani remembered. "[But then] I found what I enjoyed in the business and that’s when my success came.”

CHUCKiES grew from a small store in Brooklyn (formerly Erani's father's hosiery shop.) Now he has two more locations on the Upper East Side that cater to locals and celebrities. And over the years he's really seen the industry change.

“It’s changed a lot because now there’s an abundance of everything," he explained. "Because of the internet you can design a shoe, think that it's the best thing in the world, and then have it copied in the same season, just have it downloaded sent to China and it can get copied at every price point."

But it's his attention to detail that he believes separates his stores from the rest.

“We do edit a lot of shoes that they try to push on you, designers,” he said.  “It’s not about what we have, it’s about what we don’t have.”

“When I come here I really feel like things are handpicked, they’re selected," Roeloffs said. "I feel like when I talk to the staff they know what they’re talking about.”

Prowess paired with unparalleled personality.

And while this may not be a store for every style or budget, Ritch Erani's message is one that can resonate with anyone.

"When something does come your way, if you think you don't like it, if it’s something that you think wasn’t meant for you to do, you have to give things a try," he said. "Because you can find your happiness in that."

CHUCKiES locations:

1169 Madison Ave, New York, NY (212) 249-2254

1052 Lexington Ave, New York, NY (212) 861-1415

1304 Kings Hwy, Brooklyn, NY (718) 376-1003
PRODUCED BY: KIM PESTALOZZI