The forgotten shoe store

I hated going to the shoe store when a child in the 1960’s.  Especially for new shoes to start school. Nothing I liked ever fit according to the shoe man who measured and would measure again with that thing….never quite seeing such a skinny foot.  And no, I never met one young enough that I could fall in love with either.

It was just too narrow and the only shoes that would fit would be tie shoes. He would search, for what seemed hours, in the back behind the curtain. Walls of shoe boxes all different shapes and sizes. Tie shoes that were pointed…yuk. Tied tightly to convince my Mom that they were a great fit.

Tennis shoes did seem to work for play but not for school. During those years, we dressed up going to school and could not wear them. There was only one kind of tennis shoes that I could remember and that was Keds. It had to have the red mark on the back heels. Now, Keds shoes have a blue keds name on the side. Keds celebrated its centennial in 2016 and the continuation of its “Ladies First Since 1916” campaign with a birthday celebration held during New York Fashion Week.

Even when saddle shoes were popular, I had to wear a different form of them…the color was off… whether I liked it or not. I didn’t like it at all! And when I went to junior high and high school, it was the season for loafers, penny loafers which had a place to add a real penny. Again, even with insoles added, nothing seemed to fit me correctly.

For some reason, the name Florsheim convinced my mother that was best shoe store to visit. Many stores were privately owned by family that passed the store down for other generations to follow. Stocking up on a variety of shoe brands. Many sold Florsheim shoes in Chicago and had a sign in their window that sold Florsheim or another popular favorite; Buster Brown.

In the 1950s, the Buster Brown Shoe company began purchasing retail outlets as a new way to expand their signature brands. “I’m Buster Brown, and I live in a shoe. That’s my dog, Tige, and he lives there, too,” went the jingle for Buster Brown shoes according to America Comes Alive. George Brown started the company in the late 1800’s and became the Brown Shoe Company. In 1904, the company realized that children’s shoes and the Buster Brown character could really be successful and it was.

I tried Mary Janes, also a popular style for many girls, but still were too wide for me. In 2015, the Brown Shoe Company was called Calares that sells all types of brands; still a billion dollar shoe business.

My mom was not much of a Thom McAn or Kinney’s fan so did not visit those stores often. Thom McKan was a retail chain but currently still sold in Kmart and Sears. My mom thought that Thom McKan had a better selection of men’s shoes than women’s and wider width shoes. She, too, had a narrow foot. Kinney’s has been defunct since 1998, but strangely enough you can find Kinney shoes on eBay; an entire collection from the 1950’s, 60’s and 1970’s.

In later years, my feet have remained the same, but somehow many stores sell 7 narrow, double narrow or even triple narrow. I guess they found more people that really do have feet like mine. One of the best places for shoe shopping was Carson Pirie Scott soon to be another extinct department store.

Today, I still pick out shoes with added insoles but Target sandals work well for me since they have sandals with elastic bands and I can wear sandals everywhere!

I don’t know what those shoe men were talking about and I don’t know anyone who has dated or married a shoeman except on T.V.

How many of you know what show?

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “The forgotten shoe store”

  1. Wow – some names I haven’t heard in a while. Keds – that’s one I remember but I’m not sure if I ever had any. I do recall the locally and privately owned shoe store when I was growing up. I miss having that, or at least the thought of it. Now you can pretty much get whatever you want delivered to your front door – oh, Amazon 😦 Great post – took me down memory lane for a few minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Let me just say, I have walked in your shoes. While other girls could wear the stylish pairs from Kinny’s Or later, even Chandler’s, I had to have those special order things. I wore 5 AAA or narrower. Nowhere to be had. I have since spent lots on custom made shoes in7AAAA. There are places that can fit me today yet never the really hotsy styles.

    Liked by 1 person

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