A Guide to Shoe Shopping in Kansas City

If you’re like me and grew up in Kansas City, I bet you remember Steve’s Shoes. They were a local chain that grew into a national chain, but here in Kansas City they were a mainstay. Steve’s was our destination for back to school shoes every year, dress shoes for the Jewish holidays each fall, the place where I fell in love with Doc Martens and cajoled my mom into a pair in middle school.

All of the Steve’s Shoes stores are long gone and so are many other local shoe stores, rolled over by the changing climate of retail and the huge upsurge in online shopping. With that comes the realization that finding shoes for your kids in person is kind of difficult these days. Back in 2017, the always popular for kids and parents Stride Rite closed their brick and mortar stores and moved to an online only business model, leaving parents in the metro asking “But where do I buy shoes?”

It was a question I heard posed on internet forums and at daycare check out, in conversation with friends and strangers. And, at that time, I really hadn’t given it much thought. My daughter was still very young, and I could buy her shoes at consignment sales or online without much thought. But as she got older and more opinionated about her shoes, and as her sizes weren’t quite so easy to find at consignment or guess for online shopping I started asking myself where we could go to get that in person shoe shopping experience I so vividly remember from my own childhood. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite places around town where you and your family can shoe shop in person:

  • DSW – DSW started selling children’s shoes in late 2016. I love the selection at my local store in Zona Rosa. They sell several great brands including Converse, Stride Rite, Adidas, Nike, Skechers, and two in house brands. They offer tools to help measure your child’s feet for proper fit, and in true DSW style they have great clearance racks for thrifty shopping all year round.
  • Nordstrom – Probably the gold standard (at least as far as I’ve found) for kid shoes. They offer a huge variety of brands from mid-priced to high end, and offer their usual amazing in person customer service even to their smallest customers. Plus, they offer services that are unique to them like their “split shoe order” policy. If your child needs two different sized shoes they will allow you to buy a single shoe in each size. It’s easily done in store with the help of a sales associate and amazing for families accommodating a brace or amputation. Nordstrom also offers a policy where if your child outgrows their shoes within three months of purchase they will exchange the shoes for the new size at no additional cost. Now, I’ve not personally used their three month exchange policy but moms all over the internet have had success using the policy. Plus how much fun is it to go shoe shopping in such a fun and fancy place?! Also, if you’re looking for the Nordstrom selection at a lower price point check out Nordstrom Rack. Some great deals can be found, although you lose some of the amenities of shopping in the main store.
  • JC Penney – I don’t often think of JC Penney for children’s shoes and clothing, but recently my daughter wanted “little boots” (booties) like mine for our family photos. We were at Old Navy when she made this proclamation and our JC Penney is nearby so we headed over to see if they had anything. To my great surprise they had a great little children’s shoe department. They offer some cute fashion shoes like the booties my daughter was looking for, but also a great selection of athletic shoes, snow boots and a few cute dress shoes too. With all of JC Penney’s great rewards and incentives to shop in store you can get an amazing deal for little feet that are constantly growing. JC Penney is best for toddler sizes 11 and up.
  • Target – This is my go to for fun shoes at a great price. Their Cat & Jack line of shoes are adorable, comfortable and, most importantly, come at a great low price point. You lose some of the frills that you have at a more dedicated shoe store, however Target does offer tools to measure little feet and a huge selection of styles and sizes. Plus I love to hit up Target for summer staples like water shoes and sandals for outdoor play. Another great shoe find at Target is their line of dance shoes available in store.
  • Payless Shoesource – So, I’m the first person to admit that I rarely think about Payless, and I really need to rectify that. I stopped in to a Payless last fall to pick up a pair of ballet shoes for my daughter and my five minute trip turned into about thirty minutes of checking out all of the cute little styles they offer. All shoes sold at Payless are under their house brands and they offer some great options.

What are your favorite places around town to shoe shop for your little ones? Share them in the comments so the guide can grow!


Robyn grew up in Overland Park and has been a Kansas City Northlander for almost fifteen years now. She and her husband Brad live near Parkville with their three year old daughter Claire and their rescue dog Mario. When she’s not working full time in the legal world on the Plaza, she is either at home losing a continuous battle with the laundry and the clutter, exploring all of Kansas City with the family, reading a good book in the backyard hammock, or looking for a good excuse to bake ridiculously lavish desserts. She is a diehard sports fan who loves cheering on the Jayhawks, Royals, and her alma mater Drake University Bulldogs, and loves playing kickball, softball and attempting to do yoga at home with Claire.


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