GREENVILLE — If Dave Marshall has his way, the Bootery, after 100 years in downtown Greenville, will be serving customers for many, many more years to come.
Marshall is a third-generation owner of the shop on Broadway, having it passed down to him from his father, Howard Marshall, and he from his grandfather, Claude Marshall, who purchased the shop in the 1950s. The third-generation Marshall hopes to pass the establishment on to his son, Jason, and from there to a grandchild.
Herman Brown was the original owner of the store. He established the business, then called “Brown’s Bootery,” on April 16, 1916. It was originally located near the 2nd National Bank before being moved in 1977 to its current location at 521 South Broadway.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people whose stores are old and they know what year, but they don’t know the date,” said Marshall, who assumed ownership of the business in 1994.
Though a lot has changed over the course of a century, people still need shoes and appreciate finely crafted products and personalized service.
“We’ve always specialized in comfort footwear, though the styles have changed,” Marshall said. “We offer a lot of sizes, widths, which is something you don’t get most places.”
The Bootery also offers custom fitting. “We’ll try to, if they let us,” said Marshall.
In the shop, Marshall displays a Brown’s Bootery print ad from 1935, advertising shoes for $5 to $6.
“That would be a $175 shoe today,” he said.
Shoes and boots aren’t all to be found at the Bootery. The business offers all sorts of wearables — belts, buckles, cowboy hats, ballcaps, purses, wallets, even socks.
Marshall is a proponent of the “Shop Small” philosophy, a nationwide movement which encourages customers to buy goods at smaller, local businesses, to keep money and jobs in the community.
“We participate in about anything the downtown’s got going on,” he said, noting the Bootery often takes part in Greenville events, such as First Fridays and the Annie Oakley Days. “I just support [things] to keep downtown going, no matter what it is.”
Marshall believes the Bootery has always offered better customer service and higher quality products — features that the so-called “big box” stores can’t match.
“There’s a set that appreciates quality, and there’s a set that doesn’t” he said. “That’s not what you’re getting at the box stores. It’s a different ballgame. All about numbers. We try to take care of the people a little bit better and give them something that’ll work for them.”
For more on the Bootery’s products, as well as hours of operation, visit the shop’s page on Facebook or call 937-548-4830.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.