1,500 pairs of New Old stock vintage 1970s shoes in St. Paul, Minnesota

Over on her blog After the Dust Clears (link no longer active), reader Beth stumbled upon a shoe store in St. Paul, Minnesota, that is closing and that is liquidating some 1,500 pairs of NOS shoes from the 1970s. I talked to the owner by phone last week, and he said that the store,  Williams Store at 908 University Ave. (link no longer active), has been in the family since the 1930s. There are also lots of children’s clothes — great quality, the owner says, and Beth says there are also clothing items like Wrangler jeans and jackets.

Williams Store shoe store in Minneapolis Beth bought three pairs of 1970s shoes.

If you’re interested in pursuing some of your own, check out the website (link no longer active).

Mike also sent along the photo, above. Beth says it’s his father using a really old shoe repair machine that is still in working order.  🙂 Thank you, Beth and Mike!

Update March 26. Mike sends this email: 

First off, I want to thank you all for the outpouring of support and best wishes for my family’s shop.  Since the Retro Renovation (big thanks to Pam on that!) posting last week, I have received a deluge of emails inquiring about our stock, where to find pictures, sizes, and if shipping for non-local inquires is available.  I am currently working to place a catalog with images and size runs in PDF format.  I was at the shop this past weekend inventorying and getting images.  There’s about 60 styles of very awesome Connie Brand shoes alone..translating to around 250 – 300 pairs of shoes;  and that’s just for starters! I still have to tackle the Naturalizers, Missy Mates, Jacquelines, Hi-Brows, Trolls, and various one-off brands from yesteryear. Got to hand it to my grandparents and my parents…. they liked to buy funky,and they liked to buy A LOT!
Please keep the inquires coming I’ll do my best to answer you.   Do note I can answer specific sizing and image inquires once the catalog is complete and ready for your viewing.  Shooting for mid-April on that.
Also, some FAQ’s and answers:
Q:  “I’m Dying!  How can I see more of this stuff and buy it.  I’m not in Mpls/St Paul”
A:  I’ll be sending out a catalog soon for your shopping pleasure!  Sales will be conducted similar to Craigslist via email correspondence.  Payment will be through paypal.  More to come on that.
Q:  “Does Williams Store still have vintage clothing and shoes?”
A:  Yes, we have a wide assortment of men’s suits, women’s clothing, and youth.  Shoes will be the first items to get cataloged, and I’ll work on the clothing side as I chip away at the massive surplus from 90 years of business.
Q:  “Can I come and see the shop?  What are your posted hours?”
A:  Absolutely!  We do showings by appointment.  If interested please email me.
Q:  “Is any of your merchandise second-hand?”
A:  Nope!  All of our inventories are NOS with the original, super hip, packaging and tags.
Q: “What if I buy a pair, and they don’t fit?  Can I return them?”
A:  Due to the logisical nightmare of shipping items back and issuing credits (pay pal), ALL SALES ARE FINAL.
Lastly, a bunch of people have asked just about our story and the history of my family and the shop.  It’s really touching that you all have taken an interest in that.  I thank you, and so do the generations before me.  So with that, attached is a picture of Ed Williams, founder of Williams Store, c 1939, behind the counter of his first location shoe repair shop in Minneapolis.
Thank you, and have a great week!
– Mike

  1. Adrienne says:

    Eartha (above) and I have the same problem… I’m 10.5 Wide, and that just wasn’t around much then. Maybe shoe manuf. will take a clue now and recreate some classic styles with today’s sizes. (and please, stick with the quality leather and construction! No Payless plastic 🙂 It is one thing to be shut out of vintage, but quite another to be standing in the shoe store, credit card in hand, and get shut out :p

  2. Becky from Iowa says:

    I’m positive I saw a pair I bought, new, in the late 70’s in Iowa City. I loved those shoes: British tan low heels, with an open toe and perforated detailing. 🙂

  3. MissTrixi says:

    I had a chance to speak with Mike just after the original ‘I found these great shoes’ post. This is a story that needs to be told, and you’re telling it 🙂
    That’s so awesome that he was able to get the site together, and he sounds like they’re ready for where ever this journey takes them.

    Thanks for posting the story and links!


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