Joan Walsh, Rita Porcaro, David Killeen, Chuck Simone, Ryan Simone and Sonny at Hulit’s Shoes.

Four generations working at Hulit’s Shoes provide service that has customers coming back for more

Since 1929, Hulit’s Shoes has been a family owned and operated trademark in downtown Princeton, and next year Hulit’s will be celebrating their 85th anniversary.

Opened by Warren Hulit, the store was later run by his six children. Since 1987, however, Hulit’s grandson Chuck Simone has been in charge of the business.

Chuck’s son, Ryan, works alongside his father, representing the fourth generation of the Nassau Street landmark. He started around the age of 14, and has worked there full time since 2001.

Chuck and Ryan said they get the most satisfaction out of their days through the relationships they’ve developed with their customers.

“I really enjoy the people we meet,” Chuck said. “We have regulars that come in all the time just to see us and say hello. Over the years, we’ve developed great relationships with a lot of them.”

Ryan said he remembers children only one or two years old coming in for baby shoes when he first began working at Hulit’s. Now, they’re graduating college, and coming in to get their own kids’ shoes.

“Sometimes grandparents come in and talk to me about how my grandfather helped them,” he said. “It’s just a unique relationship. It’s really nice.”

Though Hulit’s Shoes carries big name brands like Clarks, Ecco, New Balance and Uggs, they specialize in walking shoes.

“We carry a wide range of the comfort shoe,” Ryan said. “A lot of podiatrists actually send their patients to us. Princeton Orthopedic Group just sent three patients over the other day.”

Aside from their wide variety and specialty in comfort shoes, Chuck and Ryan said their service is what really sets them apart.

“We try to know all of our customers by name,” Chuck said. “Our idea is to help you. We sit you down and actually fit you for shoes. We make sure we find out what your needs are, and we help you out the best that we can. People often come in and say it’s been years since they’ve had someone actually put shoes on them.”

Ryan said Hulit’s Shoes offers their customers not only great service, but a casual environment.

“You come in, we got our dog here, and you can just hangout,” he said. “We’ll sit you down and just talk to you; you don’t necessarily need to shop. We just like to get to know our customers. We actually take the time to talk to people, which you don’t really see too much anymore.”

Chuck said Hulit’s Shoes trains their employees, giving them a very knowledgeable staff that’s highly capable of assisting their customers.

Hulit’s also provides their customers with prices about the same as other stores or online.

“A lot of people don’t realize that we can order shoes that we don’t necessarily have as long as it’s a company we carry,” Ryan said. “You don’t have to order online. It’s easier to shop for shoes if we try them on.”

Chuck said he often sees customers come in to try on shoes, but then opt to go home and order them themselves.

“Why not just order from us?” he said. “We can get them in just about the same amount of time, and this way, you’re supporting local business.

Hulit’s Shoes is located at 142 Nassau Street in Princeton. Call: (609) 924-1952. On the web: www.princetonshoestore.com.