Shopped at Sandy's for years and spent a ton of money there, for many of the reasons others list, great service from a small business -- well not anymore. Bought both my sons Tsukihoshi's (sp?) this year for school. In just 3 months, one pair was peeling at the toe and the other had leather/vinyl peeling from the velcro strap - not from wear, but poor craftsmanship. We've owned these shoes before - and many other brands of tennis shoes - and never had a problem like this. I can look at the shoes and see how poorly they're made. No problem right, that's why I bought from Sandy's and expected some semblance of addressing the issue from their staff. Instead, we were told that the "average life expectancy of tennis shoes is 3-4 months" - wow, that was new to me. Then after describing that the shoes were only worn to school, not for bike riding, etc., she said "well school shoes take the most wear of any activity, kids are jumping up and down excited to see their friends, and other things.". Wow, didn't realize seeing your friends caused excessive shoe wear.
Moral of the story:
1) Beware if you are buying Tsukihoshi's - they may feel light and comfy, but they are very poorly built and won't last.
2) Regardless of what Sandy's could've done to remedy the situation, feeding me a line of lies about 3 month average shoe life and that jumping up and down to see a friend is the hardest activity on a shoe, is not how to treat customers.
3) Sandy's provides no better service than the big chains - when it matters. Therefore, I will have to compare them on the only differentiator, which is now price. If small businesses want to complain about the price pressure from big boxes, maybe they should consider differentiating themselves through service, and when they can't, expect that consumers will go for the lowest price when there are no other distinguishing factors.