PORTLAND -- Sports footwear company KEEN has opened a retail outlet in the Pearl District.

The seven-year-old company started with a toe-protecting sandal for sailors but has expanded to other types of sports and activities.

The store is the first retail outlet for KEEN.

The natural progression was to find a place to best connect with our consumers, said Christa DePoe, general manager of on-line and retail sales.

The 900 square-foot store called the Garage is at at 926 NW 13th, downstairs from KEEN's corporate headquarters.

Customers try on footwear in an area called sit, fit and feel. It features a bleacher recycled from the Oregon Coast. Fittings are enhanced with trays of sand, gravel and twigs to emulate hikes.

KEEN moved to Portland just three years ago from California. DePoe said the Rose City fit with the company's philosophy of sustainability.

A little bit of old, a little bit of new, what can we not throw away,let's use as much as we can, said DePoe.

Even with higher prices - men's flip flops list at $50 online - KEEN has not seen a setback because of the economy. In fact it's been experiencing double-digit growth over the past several years.

Friday will be the official grand opening.

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