Vail’s ‘Boot Doctor’ is out to change the world
Vail, CO, Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –David Martin has bought skis at Pepi Sports in Vail, Colorado the last few summers. Last year, he took the plunge and bought a pair of boots, too. Those boots – or, Martin believes, what’s inside them – have made him a better skier.
When Martin paid for his boots, he also paid extra for a pair of custom-fitted footbeds from Mike Davenport, who works in a corner of Pepi Sports downstairs shop.
“It was night and day,” Martin said of his new boots. “My turns were effortless, I didn’t feel as fatigued.”
Martin, whose business, Fitness Talks, specializes in corporate and individual fitness programs, likes his footbeds so much he’s getting another pair made for his running shoes the next time he comes to Vail.
Marshall Dickholtz, a Chicago chiropractor, is another believer in Davenport’s work. Dickholtz said he’d refer his own patients to Davenport, if it wasn’t for the several states between their offices.
Dickholtz, who also skis Vail a few times a year, said he threw out his old ski boot footbeds after skiing in the ones Davenport made for him.
He’s not the only one.
Davenport, also known as “Doctor Boot” – and no, he’s not a real doctor – has a good-sized box of discarded insoles and footbeds under a bench in his corner of Pepi Sports. He’s a believer in just about any kind of additional support that people can put in their boots or shoes. But he believes most in his own work.
Davenport started in the custom footbed business because of serious injuries he suffered in a 1980 auto accident that left him paralyzed on his left side. He’s mostly recovered now, but his left foot still doesn’t work the way it should. In looking for ways to make his own life more comfortable, he started working with a custom insole manufacturer. Over the years, though, he’s developed his own system.
Using gear he’s invented, customers have their feet vacuum-packed onto a pair of heated footbeds while Davenport adjusts how their feet rest on the insoles. The result is a supportive, yet still flexible set of insoles. No two pairs are exactly the same, either, which means customers have to be fitted every time they want a new pair of insoles.
Louise Todd-Stoll is still using the footbeds she got for her walking shoes a couple of summers ago. She just moves the insoles to whatever shoes she’s wearing.
Her husband, though, has had a couple of pairs made, which took a couple of fittings.
But, Todd-Stoll said, it took a few visits to Pepi Sports, and a few conversations with Davenport, to convince her and her husband to take the plunge.
“We’d probably talked to him four times over the course of a few visits,” Todd-Stoll said. “One day my husband went in with me and said we both should try it. I was having back pain at the time, and within 12 hours my pain was gone.”
Todd-Stoll said several of her friends have since bought insoles from Davenport. They’re believers, too.
It’s that kind of word of mouth advertising that drives much of Davenport’s business. But still, there are doubters, which is frustrating.
“I really think these can change the world,” Davenport said. “But people don’t believe it.”
Davenport, who’s been refining his work for almost 30 years now, acknowledged that he’s almost totally involved with his work.
“I used to go out, but now I feel I’ve got a responsibility,” he said.
It’s that dedication that impressed Martin.
“He’s passionate about what he does,” Martin said. “And what he does works.”