A lot has occurred since Gregg Palmer opened the Grand Junction location of Brown’s Shoe Match Firm, 425 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 spite of everything 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 if you happen to work for it.”
Palmer grew up in Loveland and shortly fell in love with retail enterprise. He operates a number of 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 Important Road staple and virtually instantly confronted two hurdles.
“That was proper on the time when the Mesa Mall opened and began taking quite a lot of clients,” he mentioned. “Not lengthy after that, Exxon pulled out of the realm. There was quite a lot of concern if we might pull it off.”
The bust of Exxon abandoning its oil shale operation and that impression rippled all by 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 fame of excellent 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’ve got this shoe in a dimension eight?’ ” Palmer mentioned. “That advised me that they nonetheless trusted and valued us.”
Across the flip of the century was when longtime workers 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 not like their earlier ones.
“Right here, we’re becoming folks and speaking about sneakers 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 identified 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, the whole lot,” Wampler mentioned. “There’s all types of shoppers we all know that effectively. They’ll name in to seek out out what time our shifts are and rearrange their schedule to return in whereas we’re working.”
That customer-service relationship helped Brown’s Shoe Match survive the third main problem in its historical past — the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like different enterprise homeowners, 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, but it surely’s additionally on-brand for his neighbors.
“It confirmed what I already knew concerning the neighborhood,” Palmer mentioned. “That it’s a really giving one. They assist one another nonetheless they will.”