VALPARAISO | Beginning Monday, the city again will have a shoe repair store operating at the corner of Lincolnway and Napoleon Street.
Buck's Shoe Repair, which opened in 1927, closed in June after two troubled years of operation under Virginia Wilhelm during which it was closed intermittently. Building owner Walter Buck, son of the store's founder, evicted Wilhelm in June and signed a one-year lease Monday with Lori Gallion of Feet First.
"I wish they had called me six months earlier," Buck said. "I had a lot of offers for other businesses, but I wanted to keep a shoe repair business in Valparaiso. The town's been good to me. I looked into these people, and they are running a good business."
Gallion, of Portage, is the owner of Feet First, which has outlets in the Meijer's stores in Merrillville and Mishawaka. She plans to reopen Buck's as the third Feet First location under the management of Deborah DeLano, a Crown Point resident. Both women have degrees in pedorthics from Northwestern University.
Gallion said they knew Walter Buck's son Tom, who ran the business for about two decades until his death in June 2009. Gallion said "a lot of work needs to be done" in the store, cleaning it up and finding out what inventory is on hand.
The contract allows for two extensions, but Gallion said she hopes to buy the store after the first year. Feet First offers more than just shoe repair. She said customers can get orthotics or braces or get them repaired. The business also does shoe modifications with wedges and lifts, and dye shoes. It will sell socks and shoes for diabetics.
Feet First will have a phone, which had been removed by Wilhelm.