by Sue Ann Rybak
For almost 60 years, the Chestnut Hill Bootery at 8511 Germantown Ave. has been a fixture on the Avenue, but Bruce Freedman, who has owned the women’s shoe store for almost 25 years, said the Internet and decreased foot traffic are just two of the reasons the store is closing.
“People don’t know what a shoe is anymore,” said Freedman, 62, of Cherry Hill, N.J. “Today’s generation prefers to buy shoes on Amazon or at one-stop stores like Target.”
He said many of his loyal customers are retiring, moving away or just aren’t as mobile as they used to be.
“I don’t want to close, but my accountant says I have to make a profit,” Freedman said. “I want to thank all my customers who have been very loyal through the years. I appreciate everyone of them.”
While Freedman didn’t give an official date of the store’s closing, he figures the store will close in three or four months.
For stores like Chestnut Hill Bootery and other independently owned shoe stores, it’s the end of an era. Shoe stores used to be places where you would come and get fitted for a pair of good quality shoes.
Armed with a “Brannock,” a metal foot measuring device named after the inventor, Freedman would measure women’s feet to make sure all his customers got a perfect fit. For Freedman it was never just about making a profit – it was about customer service.
Freedman still delivers shoes to a few of his regular customers. Several of his clients take the train into Chestnut Hill to pick-up a pair of shoes and have lunch.
Before Freedman bought the store 24 years ago from Leonard Levy, he was working as a sales representative for a shoe manufacturing company when he heard the owner was retiring.
“I wanted to stop traveling so I could spend time with my children who were young at the time,” Freedman said. “I guess it worked.”
He added that the store has allowed him to raise his kids comfortably, but he doesn’t know what he will do next.
“I am too young to retire,” Freedman said. “It’s sad – I’ll miss talking to my customers.”
While Freedman doesn’t know what the next step in his career will be, he knows that “good shoes take you good places.”