The Kneed Footwear® definition of an independent footwear dealer is an established brick and mortar retail location that primarily serves the local community through footwear and related gear. The retailer is not a corporate chain (but may be a franchise). They must be independently owned, where decisions are made at the local level, and not dictated remotely. The primary purpose should be to serve the community in which they live.
The less official litmus test is to walk into your local footwear dealer and ask “may I speak to the owner to express my appreciation?”. Although you may have to wait for them to get back into the store, the owner should be able to hear it personally.