If the United Nations decided to open a women’s footwear store, it would probably look something like Switch Shoes, where owners Rina Menashe and Jennifer Robinson have brought together kicks and accessories from around the world in a space that’s as much community center as it is boutique. “We want people to feel as comfortable here as they do in their own living rooms,” says Robinson, who opened the Multnomah Village store with Menashe three years ago, after their kindergarten-age children met on that globally popular arena, the playground.
Colorful round-toe boots from Menashe’s native Israel make up the majority of the inventory at Switch Shoes, where statement-making comfort is first on the agenda, along with the always-available tea and snacks. “We skip the trends and focus on style—and fun. Even our sales are in the form of after-hours parties, which attract women from all over the city,” says Robinson, fitting a shopper with a pair of Zamsh chocolate-brown boots with zigzag detail. Other trek-worthy items include hand-felted scarves by Portland’s Karen Thurman, laser-cut stainless steel earrings by Australia’s Polli line, recycled wool hats by local artist Jenna Robertson, and metallic leather wallets by Jerusalem-based designer Neta Sade—all at refreshingly democratic price points. Call it a peacekeeping mission for wallet and wardrobe.
This article appeared in the February 2009 issue of Portland Monthly.