After 97 years of fixing all kinds of footwear, Stevenson’s Shoe Clinic has closed the doors of its shop for good.
The small shoe repair located in downtown Victoria has gone through different owners, experienced multiple world events, and if you ask owner John Phillion, has stayed open thanks to his dedicated staff.
“The staff, they’ve been instrumental,” said Phillion.
Phillion has been involved with the shoe clinic for nearly 50 years and went on to own the shop in the 1980s. The shop has operated through four generations, first opening up in 1925.
“Back in those days you only worked a couple of days a week. They actually fixed during the war for the army and they were only opened to the public, in the 40s, just a couple of days a week,” said Phillion.
Heels, boots, and dress shoes are the typical footwear that the shop deals with, but with the prominent rise of online shopping and fewer shoe repair shops remaining operational, Phillion shifted their services offered and what products they can help with.
“From luggage, to orthotics, to purses, horse saddles, dog leashes, all sorts of things like that,” said Phillion.
But with much of the staff at retirement age and Phillion unable to find someone qualified to take over, the 69-year-old owner is closing. Along with other factors, he says the art of shoe repair is being lost.
“Believe it or not, it takes three, four years to learn the full gamut of it. And certainly at least a year and a half to be left alone without destroying yourself or the footwear you’re working on,” said Phillion.
Though the shop’s owners have stayed within Phillion’s family, the staff who joined the team quickly turned into his extended family. Some of who went on to work at Stevenson’s Shoe Clinic for over 20 years.
“I said I’d work til 70 and I’ve passed that. I’m glad [Phillion] asked me to come and stay around for a while,” said Russel Hunt, who has worked for the shop for over 40 years.
The employees have grown together over the years and say they’ll continue to be apart of each other’s lives.
“It’s going to be a different morning, tomorrow morning. Today, it still doesn’t quite feel real,” said Deborah Jury, who worked for the shop for more than 25 years.
Phillion says he doesn’t know what will happen to the location. He’s spoken with his landlord and they’ve spoken about possibly offering the space at a low-cost for incoming Ukrainian refugees.
After closing the doors for the last time, the owner says he’s taking his wife out to a lake for a glass of wine. He plans to take up golf and tennis more, and travel with his wife.