Tuesday marked the grand opening for a shoe store offering far more than footwear.

In Her Shoes isn’t your typical retailer. It’s only open for nine hours a week, and the people working there don’t see it as a long-term career move.

Operated by the YWCA Kitchener-Waterloo, In Her Shoes is designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs learn about the world of retailer.

“We’re using this as a community-builder,” says Emily Dyck, the YWCA’s social enterprise co-ordinator.

Three women at a time will be admitted into the In Her Shoes Program. Each of them will work a weekly three-hour shift at the store. They’ll also learn about marketing and social media by having roles in the store’s soon-to-launch online shopping portal, allowing for what Dyck calls a “bricks and clicks” experience.

The women in the program are women hoping to use the experience with In Her Shoes to become more confident to start their own businesses. In most cases, the women in the program find that they are facing barriers to employment.

“It’s a good self-esteem builder to have your own online store, and you can learn a lot that applies to life,” Dyck says.

Kerri Bulmer was one of the first women to be accepted into the program. She says she hopes the experience helps build her business skills to the point where she can start her own business.

“It’s hard to find a job without experience,” she says.

“I’m looking for something that’s going to be stable and keep me going for as long as I need.”

In Her Shoes is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at 84 Frederick Street in Kitchener.

With reporting by Heather Senoran