Kansas City Shoppers Tie Up Memories With Final Run Through Bob Jones Shoes
Bob Jones Shoes has been a staple in downtown Kansas City since 1960. When the retailer announced it was closing its doors in August, many shoe aficionados in Kansas City were aghast.
They've flocked to the final days of the footwear mecca to find that last perfect "fit," take advantage of the going-out-of-business sale and pay their respects to what has become a local icon.
The store's original owners, Bob Jones and Ernest Horowitz, started the business in 1960 as a discounter selling all types of products like underwear, motor oil and mink coats. In the 1980s, Ernest's son Rocky Horowitz changed the store's focus to shoes.
In these final days, Rocky Horowitz floats around the store offering fashion advice and taking it all in. He plans to keep the store open until the last piece of merchandise is sold. Even the iconic American Indian sculptures at the entrance are for sale.
"The stories that people have are very sweet. Very wonderful," says Horowitz. "Generations of kids and people have been coming through. It's emotional."
Here are just a few of those stories.
"After crying I decided I had to come by," says avid shoe shopper Nancy Trout, who drove in from Wichita.
"I have enough shoes to last me for another 10 years," Trout says, "but I'll be stuck going to one of those chain places instead of here. "
Shoppers say Bob Jones shoes has been one of those stores where you can find unique fashions that you don't see at other big retailers.
"It's the only place I've ever been able to find Stacy Adams in my size. You know I'm a big guy," says Kenny Kay. At a size 15, Kay finds the perfect pair of shoes for his upcoming trip to Las Vegas.
"I brought my daughters here because this is an iconic place and it's going to be gone soon, and they've never been," says Mary Jo Audley.
The Audleys get a picture in front of the iconic painting of shoes on the side of the building that reads "We give everybody fits." But 22-year-old Alley Audley is definitely here for more than a photo op.
"I've found a few pairs," she says while holding a stack of shoe boxes. "They're comfortable and cute and hopefully my mom buys them for me."
Suzanne Hogan is a contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org