A 40-Year Family Tradition of Customized and Quality Shoes

    Take the weight off your feet and have a seat at Best-Made Shoes. You’ll be surprised. Here we have a father-and-son business that goes back three generations. Charlie Rosen, the grandfather, started the business of custom-made shoes in Brockton, Massachusetts. Charlie taught his son Gene at age 11 to become a master shoemaker. Gene moved the business and the family to Pittsburgh, when he married a native Pittsburgher, Michele Steiner, and opened Best-Made Shoes in 1977.

    “Until recently, my grandmother came in a few days a week to answer the phone and take care of mailing packages. And my grandfather did that as well, until he passed on,” says Marc Rosen, son of Gene. Now Gene and Marc Rosen run the store, with the help of a few employees.

    Best-Made Shoes’ owners Marc and Gene Rosen.

    Best-Made Shoes’ owners Marc and Gene Rosen.

    Their first location was in Bloomfield on Liberty Avenue, across from the current Saint Maria Goretti Roman Catholic Church in 1977 (then St. Joseph’s). They moved to their present location at 5143 Liberty Avenue 20 years ago, seeking more space and free parking for their customers (there is on-street parking and a parking lot at the rear of the building).

    The Rosens not only sell shoes—they make customized shoes. Both father and son are board-certified pedorthists, which means that they help with the management and treatment of conditions of the foot, ankle, and lower extremities requiring fitting, fabricating, and adjusting of pedorthic devices. In simpler terms, they can custom-make orthotics and shoes to fit your very own foot, and relieve the pain that only you have.

    It is often heel pain that brings people to the store. “Plantar fasciitis is the most common complaint, and some people just need better support. We have orthotics, which will take the pressure off the heel, ready made and custom made. We can put them in shoes people have or they can buy shoes here. Sometimes the feet may be so large or small that they need unusual sizes or widths of shoes,” says Marc.

    Diabetes can create a need for special shoes; sores and insensitive feet call for more depth, width, and stretch in the toes. In many cases, health insurance will cover part or all of the cost, when doctors write a prescription for the needed footwear. Marc or Gene make house calls mainly to private homes, nursing facilities, and hospitals, for people who can’t come to the store. The store has a website (bestmadeshoes.com) that has brought customers from all over the country who are in need of comfort and relief of pain.

    Best-Made Shoes customers come from all walks of life, such as beauticians, cooks, construction workers, and people in wheelchairs who need special shoes to relieve pressure on their feet. “We made shoes for Dr. Starzl, the transplant surgeon, who was on his feet for hours on end. He said they helped when he did surgery,” notes Marc, “and we had Beano Cook, sportscaster and radio personality, as a customer for years in Pittsburgh. We also repaired Ben Vereen’s dance shoes when he was performing on stage here.”

    Marc recommends exercise in any form for good health, and he has chosen running as his own physical activity. “Running is good for my heart, but pounds on my feet and knees. I do it for cardiovascular exercise. When I’m running I feel healthier and I eat healthier food.” Marc’s done a few half marathons, and he wears New Balance shoes, some of which are made in the United States. Among other brands the store carries are Birkenstock, Alegria, Drew, and Dr. Comfort. As for stiletto heels: “Feet weren’t meant to be in a vertical position,” Marc says. “There’s going to be pain down the line with a shoe like that.”

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    Although neighborhood shoe-repair shops are largely a thing of the past, it isn’t necessary to throw away beloved items. You can take shoes, purses, and baseball gloves to Best-Made Shoes for repair.

    One other reason for calling Best-Made Shoes an extraordinary shoe store: For the unpredictable weather we have in Pittsburgh, Marc produced a pair of galoshes, a lightweight boot from the past that goes on over your shoes to keep you dry and safe in rain or snow. It’s not a bad idea to keep a pair in your car or closet for the Steel City’s meteorological surprises. Galoshes—who ever would have thought?

    Bette McDevitt lives on the North Side and finds that her out-of-town visitors all want to go to the Strip—they have no place to match it in their home towns.