Carella’s Shoes in Mercerville has been fitting shoes for 60 years. Jim Carella is particularly impressed by New Balance for manufacturing a well-designed athletic shoe. Photo by Chris Sturgis.

By Chris Sturgis

When your shoes are uncomfortable, it’s as plain as the frown on your face, says Jim Carella, third-generation shoe seller.

“When people’s feet hurt, they don’t smile,” Carella said.

He didn’t have that problem, because he was wearing a pair of suede Rockports in preparation for a day on his feet at the family business, Carella’s Shoes.

The business began when Frank Carella came to the United States in 1921 and founded Capitol Shoe Repair. Twenty-five years later, Frank’s son James opened the store, which specialized in baby shoes. He was soon joined in business by his brother, Francis, Jim’s father.

Now, Jim runs the store with his brothers Fred, Carl and Tom. Other independent shoe stores have come and gone, but the Carellas have survived because they focused on providing properly fitted, high quality footwear for children and adults, Carella said.

Carella said a child’s shoes must be well made and properly fit so they don’t cause problems. Therefore, Carella’s doesn’t sell shoes over the Internet, but provides information about products and services.

A child’s shoe should have stiff material on either side of the heel, adequate cushioning and a built-in arch, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association, which advises the measuring of a child’s foot each time shoes are purchased, and recommends against handing worn shoes down to the next younger child.

Measuring the foot of a child who won’t stay still is challenging, but Carella’s staff has experience in this, he said.

“Most of the time it’s fun and easy,” he said, adding that many of his youngest customers are in the third or fourth generation of their families to wear shoes from Carella’s.

One recent morning, the Fejko family was picking out athletic shoes for grandfather Michael Fejko. As he let grandson, Colton, 3, measure his feet, he recalled bringing his son, Michael Jr., to Carella’s for shoes when he was a boy.

Carella’s sells many brands known for comfort, including P.W. Minor, Hush Puppies, Soft Spots, Rieker, Teva, Stride Rite, Hotter, a British brand of athletic shoes, and Ugg, an Australian brand of shearling boots popularized by Cameron Diaz. The store has a repair service, a full line of shoe care accessories and socks.

Carella said walking shoes are designed differently than tennis shoes. The walking shoe has a slightly convex sole so the foot can roll with each step, while the tennis shoe has a flat bottom to help athletes plant their feet, Carella said.

Carella said he has expanded the display space devoted to New Balance athletic shoes because he thinks the quality is high.

“They concentrate on product. They don’t pay athletes to promote their product, they pay for research by scientists and doctors, and then come out with an excellent product,” he said.

Carella’s Shoes, 2431 Nottingham Way, is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday. The telephone number is (609) 587-5823. On the Web: carellashoes.com.