December 10, 2002 11:00 pm
Carla Sorweide  displays a Z-Coil shoe. ().
Carla Sorweide displays a Z-Coil shoe. ().

Chuck and Carla Sorweide have opened a store on Adams Avenue to sell coil-spring shoes designed to benefit people with foot, leg or back problems.

Called Carinci Coils, the store sells merchandise from an Albuquerque, N.M., inventor, Al Gallegos, a runner who is now 71.

The Z-Coil shoe manufacturer previously sold only in independent retail stores that sold other products or shoes, the Sorweides said. Now it has established 150 dealers selling only the Z-Coil product.

The shoes have a spring built into the heel and have a supportive insole. How did they discover this unusual product?

"We were visiting my dad in Albuquerque and he wanted us to visit this store," said Carla Sorweide. "They were real funky looking shoes, but when I put some on and walked around, they were the most comfortable shoes I have ever had on." So she and her husband decided to start a store in La Grande to bring relief to local people. She quit her job with the city parks department to run the store full-time. He still works for the fire department.

The Z-Coil shoes fit mainly adults, with the smallest being size 5. But children have been able to wear the smallest sizes, Carla Sorweide said.

"These are very high quality shoes. We have a lot of testimonials from customers," she said.

The local store, which opened Nov. 25, is located at 1315 Adams Ave., on the corner next to the Granada Theater. Hours are 1 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

"We have seen a lot of demand for this product," said Chuck Sorweide. "We custom fit each customer and people have been pretty pleased."

There are different styles of shoes — dress shoes, work shoes, shoes for hikers, sandals, clogs, boots. They run in price from $139 to $259.

The manufacturer claims the shoes are designed to absorb the impact of walking or running but also balance the wearer on uneven surfaces. That prevents twisted ankles.

The company had $2.5 million in sales last year, the owner reported. He said stockholders include podiatrists, chiropractors and surgeons.

The Sorweides say they have received a lot of testimonials already from satisfied local customers. The shoes are sold in 50 states, Puerto Rico and Alberta, Canada. There are only two other Oregon outlets, in Grants Pass and Lincoln City. The footwear is not sold via the Internet, but there is a site which includes information on the product and its design.

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