The New Mecca

An interview with Sole Sisters, Gerry Hanson and Kim Garrity:

Are you two actual sisters?

Have you always gotten along?
Gerry- Yes, though Kim may disagree!
Kim- I don’t disagree. We have always gotten along.

What made you decide to open a store and go into business together?
Gerry- When Kim announced to me that she would love to own a business.  I didn’t learn that about her until she was almost 30!  I always loved being in business for myself (I had a custom clothing store called Private Label) and figured we would do a great job together.
Kim- I wanted to do something new with my life. My husband and I had moved back to Helena from Portland. I was used to shopping at Nordstrom. When we moved back, there wasn’t a place to buy great designer shoes in town. So, Gerry and I decided to go into business together.  The store has changed over the years. We started with just shoes, but now we carry clothing, jewelry, scarves...all sorts of goodies.

How long have you been in business together?
Gerry- 16 years; 4 years at our current location.

What is your favorite thing about owning your store?
Kim- Working with my sister.
Gerry- I love the challenge of bringing new styles and trends to the public at prices they find workable.  As a small retailer, we strive to keep our clothes affordable for people. We do have investment pieces for a woman’s wardrobe, but we also have great $22 camisoles that are beautifully made basics. Also, I love the positive feedback from our customers.

Who are your style influences?
Kim- Anyone who dares to be themselves.
Gerry- I like watching what young people in fashion and entertainment do. I love trendy things. I’m always interested in new ways to put things together.

You call the store The New Mecca. What is that about?
The Mecca was a restaurant in our building. It was a classic diner with wooden booths and a luncheon counter. Unfortunately, it closed before either of us got to eat there. You can see a picture of it on our website.

Speaking of Mecca, if you could travel, where would you go?
Gerry- I would go to Italy with Kim.
Kim- I love water and sunshine,..some island beach.

What is your first memory about shoes?
Kim- Wearing my sister’s yellow platforms as I walked through water puddles in our garage. I wanted to make tiny foot prints.
Gerry- Going to Seattle with my Luther League group and buying 6 pairs of shoes to bring home.  One was real snake skin which was legal to sell at that time.  I'm old!!

Did your mom ever nag you about what you were wearing?
Gerry- Only not to wear such short skirts in the winter because I may end up with arthritic knees!
Kim- No.

What is your favorite pair of shoes?
Kim- Cowboy boots.
Gerry- Right now, my Haviannas or my Toms.