A lot has occurred since Gregg Palmer opened the Grand Junction location of Brown’s Shoe Match Firm, 425 Most important St., in 1980.
Shops like Palmer’s have been the topic of a lot consternation amid the pandemic in addition to the expansion of the net market. Over the previous 41 years, the shop has weathered many difficulties, obtained some facelifts, and Palmer entered politics and served as mayor for a interval. But, the neighborhood nonetheless embraces him and the shop, even in any case of those years.
“It’s nonetheless such a supportive space. It’s gratifying to see so many individuals make a degree to purchase native,” Palmer mentioned. “It’s nonetheless a blue-collar city, and it’s nonetheless stuffed with alternatives for those who work for it.”
Palmer grew up in Loveland and shortly fell in love with retail enterprise. He operates just a few Brown’s Shoe Match areas, together with one in Durango.
He wished the liberty of being his personal boss, so he pursued proudly owning retail shops. In 1980, he opened the Grand Junction Most important Road staple and nearly instantly confronted two hurdles.
“That was proper on the time when the Mesa Mall opened and began taking plenty of clients,” he mentioned. “Not lengthy after that, Exxon pulled out of the world. There was plenty of concern if we might pull it off.”
The bust of Exxon abandoning its oil shale operation and that impression rippled all by way of the Western Slope.
However Palmer mentioned his retailer had a bonus being a brand new firm. It was nonetheless constructing its buyer base, so it didn’t lose many because of the mass exodus after the pullout.
Issues settled afterward, and Brown’s Shoe Match constructed a popularity of fine customer support and merchandise with the neighborhood. Within the mid-Nineties, Palmer’s presence, reminiscent of his work with the Lions Membership, cemented the impression of the shop and which means to the neighborhood.
That was evident when he made his foray into politics within the mid-Nineties.
“I might have folks are available in who would first inform me, ‘I actually don’t agree with you on this place. Additionally, do you have got this shoe in a measurement eight?’ ” Palmer mentioned. “That instructed me that they nonetheless trusted and valued us.”
Across the flip of the century was when longtime staff Kelly Wampler and Michael Grey joined Brown’s Shoe Match. Each had expertise working within the shoe enterprise earlier than and utilized to Brown’s Shoe Match to search for a change in surroundings.
Although the job was the identical, the expertise was in contrast to their earlier ones.
“Right here, we’re becoming folks and speaking about footwear as a substitute of simply saying, ‘Right here’s your shoe,’ ” Grey mentioned. “It’s much more private right here.”
She recalled one buyer whom she has recognized since early in her tenure.
“She is available in from out of city a few occasions a 12 months. Now she is aware of my household, my children, every thing,” Wampler mentioned. “There’s all types of consumers we all know that effectively. They’ll name in to search out out what time our shifts are and rearrange their schedule to come back in whereas we’re working.”
That customer-service relationship helped Brown’s Shoe Match survive the third main subject in its historical past — the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like different enterprise house owners, Palmer by no means imagined shutting the shop down in April and Could 2020.
When the state started to reopen, Brown’s Shoe Match was then struggling to fill cabinets due to disruptions within the provide line.
“I might name a provider and ask for 80 pairs and so they’d inform me, ‘I may give you six,’ ” Palmer mentioned. “I used to be going through this in Durango, and areas in Oregon and California.”
The distinction between Grand Junction and his different areas, although, is the quantity of neighborhood help. Folks in Mesa County appear to make a extra concerted effort to buy native, he mentioned.
A part of that’s in all probability due to the decrease COVID-19 case numbers, he mentioned, however it’s additionally on-brand for his neighbors.
“It confirmed what I already knew in regards to the neighborhood,” Palmer mentioned. “That it’s a really giving one. They assist one another nonetheless they will.”