Lake County businesses will play a major role in helping this area become a magnet for investors and new businesses from outside of our borders — which will lead to new residents and, ultimately, more well-paying jobs. The business owners in Lake County are authentic and hardy and each one has a unique reason they chose to open their doors here.
The Lake County Regional Economic Development Committee will shine a spotlight on businesses in the communities that comprise our county, from single-person shops, to agribusinesses and franchises, so that Lake County residents can get to know the variety of vibrant, viable industries that are right here in our front yard.
Kellee Bussard, owner of The Shoe Box, a shoe store in Lake County, agreed to be interviewed at her store in mid-June. However, so many customers visited the store that the interview proved to be impossible to complete in one sitting. The interview was performed via email, phone calls, and through a conversation with Donna Bruch, Bussard’s mom, who was on-site to help customers on the day of the originally-scheduled interview.
If we were sharing the world’s longest elevator ride —say in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai — and we were traveling to the very top, how would you answer the “‘o, what do you do?’ question?
Bussard: My husband, Jesse, and I opened a shoe store — The Shoe Box — in Lakeport on November 1, 2014. As the sole owner of The Shoe Box, I do everything from buying, selling, stocking and banking. I opened the store because it was desperately needed in this county — and because it was a passion of mine. I know brands, I know pricing, and I know firsthand how women love their shoes.
How did you start doing business in Lake County?
Bussard: My experience has always been in retail. I’ve been dreaming about owning my own shoe store forever. It got to the point where my husband finally said ‘Either do it or stop talking about it.’ I thought, ‘What am I waiting for?’ I’ve heard so many times from my friends that they’ve longed for a spot to shop for shoes here in Lake County. And men need a place where they can find quality work boots and dress shoes. All my past knowledge, the obvious fact that I would be filling a need, and my family’s support led me to take the leap.
I was born and raised here in Lake County. When I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in fashion and retail, so I attended The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in both San Diego and San Francisco. I began my shoe career while I was still in college; I seized an opportunity to help open a new shoe store for the Nine West Group in Carlsbad. After a move from Southern California to Northern California, I was promoted to Assistant Store Manager for 9&Co. in the downtown mall in Santa Rosa. I was later recruited to work in the Macy’s shoe department and from there, I ended up at Sole Desire, a great shoe store. As their Operations Manager, and one of their buyers, I gained inside knowledge of the shoe business and I fed my passion.When my husband and I returned home to be closer to our families, we wanted to start a family of our own. I continued to follow my passion for retail as the store manager for a popular retail establishment in Lakeport until I was approached to take a new direction in sales. I’m currently a licensed insurance agent. While that career was good to me, it wasn’t what I imagined for myself. I’ve always wanted to own my own shoe store. After seeing my ideal location sit vacant for over a year, I finally decided to make my ultimate goal a reality.
What’s your favorite part of doing business in Lake County?
Bussard: Providing our region with a shopping experience that people expect to find in the city. Also, we’re a family shoe store and people seem to truly enjoy their shopping experience here.
What challenges does your business face?
Bussard: Trying to meet all our customers’ needs regarding the brands that they want. We’re growing and I’m proud of the range that we offer.
When you look into your future what are you most excited about?
Bussard: I’m excited about growing and making people happy. It’s what motivates me to get out of bed every morning.
What are you the most proud of about your business?
Bussard: The positive reaction and support from the community so far and the amazing compliments that we receive regularly. And I’ve never lost sight of my dream to do what I love. Also, the store has outperformed my original business plan goals, which I never dared hope for.
The Shoe Box is located at 997 11th Street in Lakeport. It’s open six days a week, Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can find them at theshoeboxshoes.com or at 707.263.7463.
B U SIN E S S
Kellee and Jesse Bussard proudly opened Lake County’s only comfort shoe store in October of 2014. The Shoe Box carries top selling brands that customers currently have to travel out of the county to buy!
We are proud to serve the local community!