Say, do you have those in a size 7?
August 10, 2013 7:34 AM   Subscribe

The family of redditor oktober75 have opened up a great aunt's shoe store hidden for over forty years. There is a lot of interest in the front page Reddit post with offers to purchase the shoes and boxes, despite probable damage. I'm no hipster and I don't play one on tv but I'd love to get a pair of these.
posted by humph (32 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
How is it possible this has no comments? So cool.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:41 AM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, they'll make a fortune on those boots, I bet. They're probably all union-made, US-made and they're a style that's super fashionable right now.

I don't know - I wouldn't buy shoes that old. Everyone is all "oh, good shoes last for a really long time", but those shoes have been getting dried out and dusty. I bought a pair of early nineties benchmade English shoes that had been sitting in a disused storage space - dead stock from a high-end shop that shut down - and they have this weird cidery smell that I can't seem to get rid of. I've polished, I've even rinsed inside and out with hot water and Dr. Bronner's, I've wiped down with alcohol....and they still smell like cider vinegar. They're sturdy, and if I lived on the planet of people without the ability to smell, they'd be aces, but...well, I've bought other old high-quality shoes and it's not something I recommend unless you can see them in person first.

Also, leather dries out as it ages, no matter what you do. Super high-end leather does this less - but mass produced union-made boots from the fifties were not made with super high-end leather. They were made by skilled labor and made to last, but they weren't made to sit and dry out for fifty years untouched.
posted by Frowner at 7:46 AM on August 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

Gah, they never have anything in my size.

( he said, mournfully gazing at boots.)
posted by The Whelk at 7:47 AM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wow, I would totally buy shoes here! I bet every shoe is goodyear welted, not just the one shoe sole picture shown.

By the way, old dry leather is what Saphir Renovateur was invented to fix.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:59 AM on August 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Dang, those are some swell-looking shoes.
posted by kenko at 8:18 AM on August 10, 2013

Whenever I read a story like this I am flummoxed. HOW is it possible for a store to remain undisturbed for decades?
posted by Windigo at 8:39 AM on August 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

Mink oil is a timeless wonder.
Is there any sort of an inventory yet?
posted by buzzman at 8:48 AM on August 10, 2013

Last we heard an animal may have found their way in to the store.

Picturing a bunch of mod possums running around in tweed waistcoats with flick-knives. "sssstay outah our garden guvnah"
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:52 AM on August 10, 2013 [9 favorites]

Oh chica!
Step on me! Step on me now! heh.

I'm not seeing anything that doesn't remind me of much else from the 50's that might have sat in a garage or basement, waiting for a little elbow grease and time.
posted by buzzman at 8:55 AM on August 10, 2013

Cool shop, shitty photos!
posted by ReeMonster at 9:09 AM on August 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

So great! I could look at photos like this all day, they should do a catalogue.
And I'll take the orange flats in an 8.
posted by abecedarium radiolarium at 9:24 AM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Now go home and get that shinebox.
posted by panboi at 9:26 AM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

What is this family of eldritch horrors with black fathomless cubes for heads!?
posted by elizardbits at 10:04 AM on August 10, 2013 [9 favorites]

See, I have Saphir renovateur. I have renovateur-ed a variety of items. And I still wouldn't buy fifty year old shoes without handling them first, no matter how goodyear welted they were - especially fifty year old shoes that hadn't been worn or cared for in that time. Show me a pair of Peals from 1955 that have been kept up even if they've also been worn, and I'll think about it.

I used to have some vintage women's army shoes - the cute thirties-esque oxfords with the little heel? Dead stock. Probably not as old as these. Never broke in. Cute as hell, tore up my feet.

I'm not saying that oh no, one must never buy old deadstock shoes - I'm just saying that I think it's really important to handle the shoes first because not all leather can be rejuvenated. I would not buy these over the internets, but I think they'd be a great sale item at a large vintage fair in New York or LA or someplace.
posted by Frowner at 10:18 AM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have so many questions. What is going on in that family that no one thought to touch this store for forty years?
posted by jenlovesponies at 10:35 AM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yes, I too am very curious about the economics of abandoning a property for that long and making decade after decade of property tax payments on it.
posted by srboisvert at 10:47 AM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also this reminds me of the fabulous jewelery quarter museum in Birmingham, England. It's another of these lock the door and walk away time capsules (with a dose of wacky english reclusive family living out of step with time thrown in for extra flavour)
posted by srboisvert at 10:50 AM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was surprised, though I really shouldn't be, how similar some of the styles in the photos were to the ones available from Remix, a vintage reproduction shoe company. For example, the colors on this pair appear to be drawn from the same palette as the Remix Carnival or Picnic. With the heel shape and cutouts, these bear a resemblance to the Remix Bloomsbury, Anita (in black), or Opera. This style reminds me of the Remix Lamour. Unfortunately I could not find a reproduction doppelgänger for the beautiful low-heel slingbacks that humph admired.

(I am not a shill for Remix but I am a happy customer, and I always get compliments on my Decos.)
posted by Orinda at 12:30 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

HOW is it possible for a store to remain undisturbed for decades?

I gather this is Binghamton, which had a population of 85,000 in 1950, but less than 50,000 today. As with other shrinking rust belt cities such as Detroit, there is very little redevelopment pressure in the old shopping neighborhoods, especially since there were probably malls and other strip development taking business away even while the people moved out. The appraised value of the property would plummet as other businesses moved away.

I live in a smaller city that hasn't even experienced a population decline and we have dozens of storefronts downtown that haven't seen activity in decades. Speaking as a landlord, there are actually tax advantages to holding property when you can't rent it -- the property taxes are a write-off and especially if there's no mortgage you get a passive loss that offsets other income.

Especially back in that era, I can see this being a sole proprietorship where the other employees had quit and the owner just began opening up more and more intermittently until just stopping doing that one day.
posted by dhartung at 12:44 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


This SO hard, oktober75!
posted by Cathedral at 1:32 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Some sort of cross between Al Capone's vault and Carrie Bradshaw's closet" - not a phrase I thought I'd be thinking today.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:40 PM on August 10, 2013

Gah, they never have anything in my size.

Exactly. What is it about older shoes being so narrow. Shoes pack in the attic from great/grand parents would hardly fit over my big toe.

BlueHorse DuckFoot
posted by BlueHorse at 3:00 PM on August 10, 2013

This is making all my vintage Sears catalog inspired daydreams come true!

What is it about older shoes being so narrow?

I think people had narrower feet in the days before sneakers and canvas shoes. I once read an interview of Nan Kempner or one of those New York socialites who grew up wearing couture and she said her mother only let her wear lace up leather shoes so her feet wouldn't spread out.
posted by apricot at 3:25 PM on August 10, 2013

They're probably all union-made, US-made and they're a style that's super fashionable right now.

At least one pair swore it was Made in Italy. Other than the Endicott Johnsons, there wasn't a name I had ever heard of, so, I'd be nervous.

Plus - old shoes can lose their soles if only glue was used. Potential embarrassment.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:26 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

> Gah, they never have anything in my size

I wear a women's 10 1/2 or 11. I don't think they even made those then.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:13 PM on August 10, 2013

Yeah, men's 12. It's slightly better but I can never find anything from Pre 1960.
posted by The Whelk at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2013

Wow. See those 40-year-old Converse boxes? WAAA, no opens!

Too bad it's hard to get shoes of that quality these days!
posted by Twang at 9:32 PM on August 10, 2013

I read thru the reddit thread, and sadly the photos are several years old and pickers have already gotten the cream of the crop. So this is neat, but only small-n neat.

My grandparents were in the shoe business (last year's models) in LA from the 1940s through the early 1970s. I have early memories of their store, which looked a lot like this one. It being LA, their stock was quickly sold, not hoarded, when they retired. I recently had a chance to talk with the relatives who bought them out, and learned that 1950s saddle shoes from back stock were used in Grease.
posted by Scram at 10:13 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

The shoes are lovely, but it's the tin ceiling I truly covet.
posted by Lou Stuells at 10:43 PM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

dhartung: ... I can see this being a sole proprietorship

So true, so true.
posted by taz at 11:14 PM on August 10, 2013

Reminds me of Ollivander's on Diagon Alley where all the Hogwarts kids buy their wands.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 1:36 PM on August 11, 2013

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