Boaz Shoe Repair, one of the city's oldest businesses, is closing after over a century of mending the soles of downtown Paducah.
Owner Dwayne Boaz didn't make the decision lightly. Though the shop isn't as busy as it was in its heyday, there's still plenty of customers coming through the doors. Boaz is closing the business because of an upcoming move to South Carolina.
"I can't deal with the business from there, but I'd love to see somebody take over and have it take off," he said. "I'm going to hate to see it close."
Boaz is planning to close the doors of the shop on Dec. 13, allowing them to pack up the shop and get things in order the week before Christmas.
Since opening on the first Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, the shop has had a few different names, moved buildings and known several owners, but it's always been there for those whose shoes needed a tune-up.
Originally called Spillman & Burroughs Shoes, after the first owners, the business then sat at the corner of Fourth and Kentucky. When they hung up their laces and retired, H.G. Slaughter took the business over for a few decades before selling it to Loyd Samuel Boaz Sr. -- Dwayne's grandfather -- in 1954.
At the time there were 13 shoe repair shops in Paducah; now there's only one in the county. While the shop outlasted the rest, Boaz blames the decline on "throwaway culture."
An Associated Press article published in 1975 said something along the same lines, with a cobbler of the time saying, "(People) will buy cars that cost thousands of dollars, bicycles that cost $198, but they'll put shoes on their feet that cost $1.98."
With the steady attrition of shoe repair businesses around the country, it's notable that a business like Boaz Shoe Repair has been able to last as long as it has.
"It's a dying art. Lot of people nowadays don't even think of getting shoes fixed," said Jill Suiter, who has worked in the repair shop since Dwayne reacquired it. "They'll just go buy a new pair. It's a throwaway society."
Dwayne's grandfather retired in 1977, selling the business two years later to Roger and Ann Rutherford. The Rutherfords would turn the shop over to a second-generation, William and Candice Rutherford-Slater, in 1997. They would sell to Russell Warren in the late 2000s, when Dwayne returned to the scene to work in the shop before reacquiring the family business in 2015.
"It was always interesting and I loved being around it, which I have been since I was little. Working for Russell got me back into it and I just went from there," Dwayne said of his desire to get the shop back.
Dwayne's father, Loyd Samuel Boaz Jr., still works in the shop alongside his son.
"It's kind of a unique thing, I guess, to be able to come in here and work where my father worked all these years later," he said. "I was always proud that Dwayne wanted to come back here."