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According to Scott Callisch, owner of the Flip Flop Shop in San Luis Obispo, flip-flops are more than just a way to free your toes from confinement.

“Flip-flops are really a state of mind,” he said. “When you put a pair of flip-flops on, you are saying I’m leaving my worries over here and I’m putting on my flip-flops.”

REVOLUTION BEGINS WITH FEET :  Scott Callisch is on a mission to liberate the toes of SLO County residents, one flip-flop at a time. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • REVOLUTION BEGINS WITH FEET : Scott Callisch is on a mission to liberate the toes of SLO County residents, one flip-flop at a time.

Callisch worked as a physical education teacher, athletic director, and basketball coach for 31 years, and at age 54, he decided he was ready for a change.

“Dealing with teenagers all day every day, the bell tells you where to go, where not to go, when to go,” he said. “I just wanted a different challenge.”

After doing some thinking, trying to figure out what an ex-physical education teacher can do besides teach, Callisch’s wife suggested that he try something quite the opposite of his former profession. Callisch said, “My wife thought, hey you could sell flip-flops—that might be something you can do.” He jumped at the idea and soon became the franchise owner of the Flip-Flop Shop in SLO.

The transition from teaching to retail has presented him with the everyday challenges he was looking for, though he admits it hasn’t exactly been a smooth one: “It’s a whole new world. I make a mistake every day. I learn something every day. That is what I wanted.”

The Flip-Flop Shop is at 858 Higuera St. in downtown SLO, a spot formerly inhabited by the House of Bread bakery. The space has been completely renovated to be both eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing, including the installation of corkwood floors and energy-efficient lighting. The pleasant smell of coconut oil and fresh leather fills your nostrils as you walk in, just before the overwhelming sight of hundreds of flip-flops blows your mind.

“Our niche is selection. Most of the stores that sell flip-flops there will be a section, if you’re lucky, about eight feet wide and five feet high. You have to take what you can get, take the sizes you can get. If they don’t have your size or the style you like, you are stuck with something else. We have a couple thousand pairs here, in all different versions. We have the get-out-of-the-shower flip-flops and we have the going-to-the-club and I-want-to-impress-someone flip-flops. We’ve got the whole range, all of the sizes, blingy, plain rubber, wedge, high heel, flat. A guy came in yesterday looking for a size 15,” Callisch said. “We have 15s.”

A giant collection of flip-flops and surf slippers lines three walls of the store, and there’s an artificial flip-flop “tree” in the center. Find 20 to 25 brands in-store in a wide range of styles and prices. The Flip Flop Shop is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. For more information, call 548-1858 or check out flipflopshops.com.

Fast fact

The National Train Day celebration will take place from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, at the Amtrak San Luis Obispo train station at 1011 Railroad Ave. The date commemorates the anniversary of the driving of the golden spike that linked the east and west coasts of the United States. There will be a scale model railroad exhibit from the San Luis Obispo Model Railroad Association, a railroad photography display by local Rich Hansen, refreshments, and paper engineer caps and souvenirs for kids of all ages. Contact David Weisman at 772-7077 or check out nationaltrainday.com for more information.

Contributor Jack Johnson compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your business news to strokesandplugs@newtimesslo.com.

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