Kansas City Shoppers Tie Up Memories With Final Run Through Bob Jones Shoes | KCUR

Kansas City Shoppers Tie Up Memories With Final Run Through Bob Jones Shoes

Sep 29, 2018

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.

Bob Jones, the original owner of Bob Jones Shoes used to collect American Indian art. Now the sculptures are an iconic part of the store's decor.
Credit Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

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.

Shopper Nancy Trout shows off a pair of multi-colored leather sandals that she bought from Bob Jones Shoes last year.
Credit Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

"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. "

Kenny Kay is a size 15. He says being a big guy it can be hard to find shoes in his size, but he found a pair easily at Bob Jones Shoes.
Credit Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

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.

Mary Jo Audley treats her two daughters to a shopping spree. The Audleys then get a picture in front of the iconic sign on the building.
Credit Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

"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 suzanne@kcur.org