It’s that time of year, when your little one makes the switch from dipping his toes into the ocean to slipping his feet into a brand-new pair of school shoes. No need to run yourself ragged (there’s enough of that during the school year) trying to find a shoe shop that makes the grade. We picked the best of the best – all of which get an A+ in service and selection, the two key components when shopping with picky little people.

shoes

photo credit: Mark Quintanilla via Creative Commons

The Shoe Box
If you live in the Valley, you really should start by taking your little shoe maven to Mike. His selection of baby, toddler and big-kid shoes makes the honor roll every time when it comes to construction, fit and style. Mike is old school when it comes to service. He’ll educate parents on which shoes are appropriate for their child’s feet and orders his back-to-school selection based on what the schools in the area require. Mike says “It’s a tennis shoe world!” this fall as kids continue to cozy up to brightly colored, washable shoes from brands such as the wildly popular Tsukihoshi. He also features uber-cool soles from Nina, Primigi and Lelli Kelly, just to name a few. So run – don’t walk – to Mike for the perfect pick and fit.

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Closed Sunday
22011 Avenue San Luis, Woodland Hills
Phone: 818-312-9810
Online: mikesshoebox.com

WeeSoles

photo credit: Wee Soles

Wee Soles 
Wee Soles caters to the tiniest tootsies and on up to the big leagues. Co-owner Tamsin Carlson brings her European perspective to this hip shoe boutique featuring all the best back-to-school lines like Naturino, Puma, Saucony, Tsukihoshi and Camper. Carlson is a sucker for a children’s shoe or boot in red, but says the walls of her store are dotted with burnished leathers, burgundy, yellow, navy and all kinds of vibrant colors that kids love and parents won’t mind looking at. The customer service in this place is unmatched: your child’s foot will be measured from toes to width, and the proper attention is given to finding a shoe that will feel comfortable well past winter break. And as a treat for good behavior, Pazzo Gelato is scooping up next door.

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
3827 Sunset Boulevard, Los Feliz
Phone: 323-667-0774
Online: weesoles.com

Red Tricycle (2)

photo credit: Nordstrom

Nordstrom
A round-up on kids shoes is simply not complete without a nod to Nordstrom. And no, we didn’t include them just because it’s the one place you, too, can score a new pair (but do keep that in mind!). The real reason we’re directing you to Nordstrom is because they continue to rule with a roomy shoe department featuring all the coolest styles any kid could want. Parents appreciate the  extremely generous return policy, while kids enjoy trying on the latest and greatest from the brands they covet: Dr Martin, Steve Madden Troopa, Nike, Naturino, Converse and UGG — to name just a few. For fall 2014, Nordstrom buyers pony up the fringe on moccasin looks of all kinds, and offer up a fun selection of diva-style boots in shiny, high-tech fabrics.

Nordstrom has stores all over (yeah, we know you know!).  Check their website for hours and locations.
Phone: 888-282-6060
Online: nordstrom.com

brooks shoes

photo credit: Lynell V. via yelp

Brooks Shoes for Kids
Parents and kids with discerning taste will love Brooks Shoes for Kids. Ever since the doors opened in 1955, Brooks has dominated the upscale kiddo shoe market, and today is known as the go-to shoe shop for parents wanting a friendly experience: Brooks expects his employees to smile and make eye contact with every patron who walks through the door and schools staffers on which shoes are best for your kid’s foot shape. You’ll find the shelves lined with genuine leather offerings that make up a wildly popular back-to-school selection of saddle shoes, Mary Janes, sneakers and athletic shoes in brands ranging from Converse, Nike and Puma to Stride-Rite, Primigi, Saucony and Geox. Owner Brooks suggests little guys with wide feet check out a pair of New Balance for the ultimate in cushion and comfort.

They have 8 locations throughout the city, check the website for hours and directions.
Phone: 310-315-9898
Online: brooksshoesforkids.com

Harry Harris
If you can’t find it at Harry Harris, you probably don’t want it anyway. Girly girls love the selection of brightly colorful flats and tennis shoes, while the roughest and toughest boys can be found swooning over the extensive selection of athletic soles. Brands such as Jumping Jacks, Pediped, Kid Express, See Kai Run and K-Swiss run the gamut from unassuming to unbelievable. One thing you probably won’t find here is a sale; but if you fly in frequently enough, you’re likely to get some sort of discount.

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Locations in Encino, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

kicks la

photo credit: Anne H. via yelp

KicksLA
The minimalist design of the shops maximizes attention to the range of sports-related and casual footwear available. Uggs, Air Jordan, Nike, Vans (check out the new Star Wars ones for the fall of 2014) and full lines of TOMS allow kiddies one-stop shopping for all their comfort needs. While the sales staff is decidedly laid-back, they’re happy to bring multiple sizes to satisfy the growing customers they serve. And ask if they have a sweets stash behind the counter – they like to share when they’re stocked.

Stores are all located on shopping mecca streets like Larchmont Blvd., Barrington Place in Brentwood and Montana Ave in Santa Monica, so you can make a shopping day of it. Check their website for hours and locations.

Online: kickssoleprovider.com

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For Kids Only
They’re only going to wear them for a hot minute before their feet grow, so if you want to save a little, this is the spot.  For Kids Only carries many of the same styles as their pricier counterparts – but a season behind. Take advantage of the discounts (clothing too!) on such European and American brands as Kid Express, Umi and Naturino. The tykes’ feet will enjoy the same comfort and style at a fraction of the usual cost. Beware of tricky signage though – some items aren’t on sale and can be mixed in. Ask first to avoid disappointment at the checkout.

There are two stores, one on Fairfax in Mid-City LA and the other in Tarzana.  Check the website for hours and directions.

Online: forkidsonlyla.com

-Lisa Finn

Where do you get your kicks?  Let us know your favorite shoe store for kids.

Main image photo credit: sophie & cie via flickr