A fixture of Ottawa’s Main Street is saying goodbye.
“We’d like to thank Ottawans for all their years supporting us there,” said Steve Ruzek. “It’s not an easy decision, or a decision we like to make.”
Ruzek is the president of Brown’s Shoe Fit Company, a regional chain of full-service shoe stores. Company officials announced the closing of Ottawa’s branch of Brown’s Shoe Fit on Aug. 30. After a sale starting Tuesday, the Ottawa business will close its doors for good on Sept. 15.
The business has been in Ottawa since 1970.
“In small communities, economics and the ability to but bodies in the store are the biggest factors,” Ruzek said. “Brown’s Shoe Fit Company has been around since 1911, and historically, a lot of our stores were in towns from 5,000 to 10,000 people. We are going through a bit of a transformation right now, and growing into some larger communities.”
Ruzek cited a world of changing business models as part of the reason behind the Ottawa store’s closure.
“We truly are a niche business, when you look at the way business is run in today’s world, you don’t find many full service businesses of anything,” he explained. “But that is still our thing — we sit people down, we measure feet, we have shoe experts. When it comes to people getting properly fit, there aren’t many people out there that do it.”
He went on to invite customers up to Lawrence, soon to be the closest Brown’s Shoe Fit to Ottawa.
“You hate to see it, but we have to position ourselves in communities where there is a long term outlook for success,” Ruzek said. “That is something we are going through with all of our stores right now, and evaluating every situation and making decisions that will allow us to be around 100 years from now, not just ten years from now.”