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Steven Adelson, Owner of Teddy Shoes
Steven Adelson, Owner of Teddy Shoes

TEDDY SHOES FINDS THE PERFECT FIT FOR ALL

This family business has served Cambridge for nearly 65 years. Get to know them and their owner!

Thu Apr 1, 2021

You feel like part of the family when shopping small at Cambridge businesses like Teddy Shoes Inc. Through personalized service, customer care is number one at Teddy Shoes. Their floor-to-ceiling shelves overflow with Cambridge’s greatest mix of footwear, tights, dancewear plus accessories of every kind. If you want it, they will find it, and it’s been that way for over six decades. 

Cantabrigian, Theodore “Ted” Adelson, founded the shoe store. Ted was a Jewish Navy veteran who served the U.S. in WWII. He was also a graduate of Harvard College. Ten years following Ted’s graduation, Teddy Shoes opened its doors.

At that time in April 1957, this Central Square staple offered family footwear and factory cancellations from factories that were closing or whose buyers canceled their orders. Ted became known as Mr. Teddy as he personally visited factories to select products for Teddy Shoes. Since its beginnings, Teddy Shoes has prioritized providing the best for their customers, an ideal maintained by Mr. Teddy’s son, Steven Adelson.

Steven joined the family business in 1978 after graduating from Michigan State University and returning to Cambridge. He spent a decade working alongside his father at the Cambridge shop. Once Mr. Teddy retired in 1987, Steven took over, and Teddy Shoes became Teddy Shoes Inc.

“I always wanted to be my own boss,” he said. “I am still appreciating this independence 42 years later.”

After the closing of nearby dance retailers in the early nineties, requests for dance shoes began rolling in. Steven saw a community that needed to be served, and so, Teddy Shoes found a new niche: dancewear. 

From ballet and ballroom to tap and tango, today 88% of their business comes from dance shoes. The store even partners with local dance studios, schools and colleges. “We want to continue to be a valuable resource to the local dance community,” Steven shared.

While known as a dancewear destination, Teddy Shoes prides themselves on carrying products for everyone. They purposefully stock items with specific customers in mind. For instance, they carry larger sizes of high heels; many transgender customers have trouble finding these elsewhere.

“A lot of times, people don’t have the same opportunity to go to a store [and get what they need,]” Steven reflected. Thanks to him, that’s never the case at Teddy Shoes.  

Following in his father’s footsteps, Steven hand-selects many of the store’s items. He travels to New York every few months in search of unique products like belly dancing costumes and pork pie hats that are popular among the swing dance community.

Though faced with challenges during the pandemic, Steven focuses on the positives, like how he can now assist shoppers one-on-one. Steven also has more time to update the Teddy online store, which offers free shipping as well as curbside pickup. Another positive for Steven? He enjoys spending more time with his family these days.

Steven’s dad, Mr. Teddy, passed away in 2019 at the age of 95. He was honored by the City of Cambridge and the Central Square Business Association for his service to the neighborhood as well as to the Boston dance community. 

Steven is thankful for those who have supported his family’s business throughout the last 60+ years. He feels honored he can help his neighbors find the perfect fit.