Scott Starbuck has been selling shoes for decades. He began in high school working part-time at a shoe store in Kansas City, Missouri and was quickly promoted to run the flagship store in Omaha. A couple years later, he and his former boss struck out on their own to build a larger shoe company. Their business expanded to six locations across the Midwest, and after a few years of rapid success, they sold the company.
Scott used the funds from the company sale to start City Soles, which he opened in 1991 in Lakeview’s Century Mall and moved to Wicker Park in 1995.
City Soles is a designer shoe boutique featuring men’s and women’s footwear from Europe as well as jewelry, handbags, and other accessories from local artists. In addition to his bustling storefront in Wicker Park, Scott also has a thriving e-commerce site that ships free nationally. For Chicago, Oak Park, and Evanston locals, you can even get free same day shipping.
Despite City Soles’s high-traffic storefront and site, the pandemic hit hard. “No one was going out to dinner anymore or doing stuff,” said Scott. “Nobody was buying shoes.”
It was during the pandemic that Scott first connected with A4CB and received a small business loan. He used his funds toward payroll, vendor payments, and other operational costs.
“It’s very cash intensive to get the inventory for shoe businesses,” said Scott. “Everything helps.”
Looking forward, Scott is focused on growing his online business and web presence to connect with more customers across the country.