This post is for those who prefer Merrells over Manolos.

The New York Times is reporting that Gander Mountain Co., the St. Paul-based outdoors retailer, is expanding its footwear department by adding more than 20 brands to the mix. That includes Adidas, Asics, Brooks, New Balance, Oakley, Saucony and Under Armor.

And, the Times reports, Gander Mountain is hiring an additional 400 employees nationwide to sell said shoes. The privately retailer, which has some 115 stores across the country, has launched its own Footwear University to train employees on how to sell shoes. (Yes indeed, there is an art to it.)

According to the report, Gander Mountain execs decided to push shoes following the unseasonable weather last year, a cool spring, and warm, dry fall. Despite that unpredictability, demand for shoes, boots, and sandals remained steady.

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