We talked to: Strada
We recently spoke to Anna Bowen, owner of Strada in Northampton. We truly enjoyed Anna's enthusiasm and passion for her work and for Northampton in general!
Could you share a bit about Strada’s history?
We opened in 1994, in Thornes. It was Howard Shoes before it became Strada, and we were proud to continue the tradition of selling high-quality, beautiful Euro-comfort shoes. When our lease was nearly up, and my business partner William decided to move on, it seemed like the perfect time to move to a new location on Main Street and continue the tradition of selling amazing shoes to both our loyal customer base as well as folks visiting from out of town. I feel it’s also quite beneficial for it to be woman-owned, as I can appreciate what most of our customers--primarily female clientele--are looking for and require. I feel a very strong connection to my customers, and I love to be able to recommend styles and brands that I feel will suit them and make them feel their best.
What do you love/appreciate most about the business community in Northampton?
I love the sense of support and community in this city. Everyone is so present and involved. After 9/11, one of the business owners came around with Hershey Kisses, just bestowing a little sweetness and thoughtfulness around town. After Hilary Clinton lost the election, another business owner distributed home-made cookies. That is not something you see in a bigger city. We live and work here, and most of us are actively working in our stores on a regular basis. I love that the business community feels like a living, breathing entity. I also love that people who visit from out of town continue to return year after year, and we get to form lasting relationships with them.
What do you love/appreciate most about Northampton in general?
I love the open spaces that are all over the city. There are so many green spaces and places to walk and bike. I love how beautiful and welcoming Pulaski Park is now, and that they have live music and dance events. People can also feel comfortable sitting in the park and letting their kids play and socialize. I also love that Northampton is in close proximity to beaches, mountains, and cities. I appreciate the vibrant cultural scene here, as well as the wide array of great restaurants and unique activities.
What positive things do you see happening in Northampton?
I think that there is a continued sense of vibrancy and forward movement, and it really helps that as store owners, so many of us both live and work here. I also love that there are more and more women business owners in the area. For me, being able to connect with my customers, offer suggestions and guidance, and truly get to know them on a personal level is incredibly important. As small businesses, we’re able to cater to our customers’ needs in a way that mall stores just cannot do--and certainly they won’t receive that kind of personalized attention online, either. It takes time to build trust with our customers, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We want people to feel comfortable shopping here, and feel like they are receiving the kind of attention and care that they deserve.
Are there any upcoming events you are excited about, either in Northampton in general or at the store?
We have two events coming up that we’re very excited about. One is a Naot trunk show on Indigenous Peoples Day, and we will be holding a raffle and offering some great deals on various shoes. We will also have a Cloud Footwear event during the last weekend of October and will offer gifts, giveaways, and raffles. I am very excited about the Paradise City Arts Festival, as it always generates a lot of activity and we love that vendors will come and shop here and chat with us. I also enjoy the Tuesday Market--I always say that I feel as though I am in a Richard Scarry book when I shop there. I also love seeing the kids in costume on Halloween when they stop by the store to trick-or-treat. And of course, Bag Day is always a wonderful event--I love assisting customers who return every year to shop and enjoy a great discount. It has been such a lovely tradition over the years!