A rare and special affair | News, Sports, Jobs
GLOVERSVILLE – On a hot Saturday afternoon earlier this month, Charles Rossbach opened the front door of his shoe store, with its interior shaped like a shoebox, and sat down in one chairs used by customers while placing new stock on their feet.
A motorcycle drove past 10 West Fulton St., and the jarring explosion was amplified by the street’s shallow canyon of commercial buildings. Rossbach waited for the noise, which rushed through the open door and down the two narrow aisles that rest on a hardwood floor and under a stamped tin ceiling, to dissipate. The owner and sole employee then provided a visitor with a summary of the Rossbach Shoes capsule.
“Same family, same name, same place,” he said. “Not much has changed.”
Much like his grandfather, then his father, Rossbach always sits on a stool measuring a boss’s foot, then lacing up shoes before a test walk in the store. It has Brannock devices, the metal plates that determine the length of a person’s foot, as well as its width and the location of the arch of the foot. But he prefers to use a wooden tool, made long ago by Dr Scholl’s, before heading down the aisles to retrieve a box and return it to the footstool.
“Do you want to know something?” Rossbach asked, holding Scholl’s measuring device, which is simpler and smaller than a Brannock. It was also a favorite of his father. “It’s the best measuring stick, compared to those Brannocks. It is more precise than any other. “
His grandfather, Christian Rossbach, opened the store in February 1922. His father, Carl Rossbach, took it over in 1945 and ran it until 1988. Charles Rossbach took control 33 years ago, but he has been working there since 1960.
The third store owner looks a lot younger than his 77 years old. Rossbach said it wasn’t tight by nature – and feels it’s an important attribute for any merchant facing the public. On this hot day, his interactions with customers exhibited a calm demeanor.
“Usually, if you keep calm and are honest with everyone, it usually works for the best,” Rossbach said. “I think that’s what kept us going here all these years.”
In a few hours, he was closing the store, after six consecutive days of work, and enjoying a day off on Sunday. He said he had an employee, but Rossbach Shoes has been a solo business for 20 years.
The prices of the shoes range from $ 19.99 to $ 170. A sidewalk sign, chalked by Rossbach, announced that women’s winter boots were cleared at 50% of the regular price. The owner said some customers took advantage of the sale and purchased five pairs of winter shoes.
An older couple entered the store. As the man took off his sunglasses he said “What did I tell you about this place?” to his companion. The woman sat down and smiled as she looked around.
Rossbach said he frequently hears comments about what people perceive to be a retro retail operation, but does not see them as rude. He likes that the store isn’t much different from his first working days here in 1960. His tiny store full of shoeboxes can’t be mistaken for a big box store.
The man said he and the woman would be married soon and that his future wife needed a pair of comfortable shoes to wear for the ceremony. Rossbach walked to the first aisle, narrower than the second, past the sales counter, and returned with a box.
The woman, standing in the reasonable white shoes Rossbach had found for her wedding, nodded approval. Sale price: $ 59.99.
The man removed three $ 20 bills from a bank envelope and paid Rossbach. It was their wedding fund, he explained.
On leaving, the man said he would be back before the fall to buy new work boots.
“We remain stable here with business,” Rossbach later said. “It’s a very old independent shoe store. There aren’t many left. “
Rossbach said it faces competition from online retailers and big box stores, but there has always been competition. Years ago Rossbach Shoes competed with other shoe stores in Gloversville. Some were independent stores and some were part of national chains.
Rossbach Shoes still sells many pairs of work shoes each year, according to its owner, but fewer pairs than when there were more factories in the area. Sneakers, women’s shoes, work boots and slippers are the most important segments, along with specialty footwear.
“We sell dance shoes, tap shoes, ballet shoes, jazz shoes and toe shoes,” Rossbach said.
Charles Rossbach is the father of three children. Two of her children live outside the region, but one son still resides in Gloversville. Rossbach said this fourth generation could eventually take over the family business, but there is no formal transition plan. The man who has been on staff since 1960 and owner since 1988 doesn’t even want to talk about retirement.
“You just have to bow your head and keep plowing,” he said. “I never asked for much. I just worked and worked.