Perry’s: Boulder’s loss, Nederland’s gain

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.  In a whirlwind change of locations, Perry’s Shoe Shop, the second oldest Boulder business, has moved lock, stock and boots to its new location in Nederland. The Perry family, in just a couple months’ time, purchased and renovated the former Mountain Rose Hair Salon transforming it into a shoe/boot repair, retail shop which is now open for business.

Walking into the bright, shiny retail space, one breathes in the scent of new leather, of polish and rich oils, of new paint. The Perry family is gathered around a large cushioned seat. George and Becky Perry have run the shoe repair business all of their adult lives and will live in the residential space above the shop.

 

Emily, their daughter, grew up working in the shop, and she and her husband Robert and their daughters Magnolia, 1, and Dahlia, 3, live in Nederland. John Filling is the sole man. Hercules is the shop dog.

 

The Perry’s are ready for continuing their historic legacy on Second Street in Nederland, their new home.

 

George Perry started the shoe repair shop in 1922 and his son George Perry took over in 1959, working from various downtown Boulder locations. Local residents depended on the repair shop to keep their feet worn when shoes were rationed during the war, supplies going to make boots for soldiers.

 

Footwear was made to last back then and it was worth the money to repair and resole shoes and the Perry’s enjoyed a thriving business. George Perry II took over the shop which had become a popular place to meet neighbors and share a bit of community gossip.

 

George Perry, III, grew up at the store, attending Foothills Elementary, Centennial Junior High and Boulder High School. He says that the 70s were a bustling time for the family business.

 

The shelves were filled with Frye boots and European hiking boots and Birkenstocks.

 

“When I graduated from high school, I didn’t want anything to do with the family business. I had grown up night skiing at Eldora and decided that I wanted to be a ski bum, to have lots of fun in Jackson Hole.”

 

While he was living the good life in Jackson, one of his father’s employees left, so in 1976, George was drawn back to the shop, having already had many years of on the job training. He knew how to sew, how to use the patch machine, work on the upper leather parts.

 

During the 70s, Elton John’s assistant brought in Elton’s Tony Lama boots, requesting that the heels be stacked two inches to make him look taller.

 

In 1976, Becky was hired, and while they worked in the shop, they fell in love and got married. A new Perry family settled in to keep the business vital. Emily was born in 1986 and says she started working as soon as she could walk.

 

“I would come in after school and grandpa would have me dusting, paying me five cents a day. He taught me about customer service and how if someone gave you a $20 fill, you have to count the change back for them. He also impressed on me that the presentation was important. You put new laces in the shoes. And you never let a customer see the shoes taken apart. It’s too traumatic, like walking into an emergency room.”

 

Historically, Boulder residents would bring high quality shoes to be repaired. It was a good town to be in the shoe business, especially the outdoor hiking boot business.

 

Over the years, Perry’s location migrated around the downtown area: Broadway, to Pearl, to Spruce and Walnut and then onto 15th and Arapahoe, where they have been for the past eight years. They have always rented. George says he personally moved the shop four different times and that’s no easy task.

 

But times changed and operating costs in Boulder sky-rocketed. Last January, George was informed that their $4,500 rent was going to double.

 

“We were being pushed out of Boulder, the second oldest business, coming up on 100 years. It was scary. We started looking for an opportunity where we could both work and live.”

Emily had moved to Nederland seven years ago. Even then she recognized that Boulder was no longer the town she had grown up in. One night, she Googled places for sale in Nederland. It was around 11 p.m. and when she saw that the Mountain Rose was for sale, she sent an email and arranged for a showing at 10 a.m. the next morning. The Perry’s made an offer the same day, sold their home in two weeks and by September 6 were already beginning the remodel.

 

Emily says, “The doors opened for us and the shop had everything we needed: the retail space, the workshop and a residence over the business. And then we had the welcoming from the residents at the town meeting. People were eager to know that we fixed shoes and boots.

 

Last Friday, October 13, 2017, the shop opened and the Perry’s have their new lines of hiking boots and snow boots on display, ready for Nederland customers. They are introducing Oboz, an insulated, waterproof, affordable hiking boot perfect for mountain residents. They also offer Boggs and many brands of kids boots in popular styles.

 

Emily said their goal is to appeal to the Nederland residents. She understands that most Ned businesses like to bring in the tourist dollars, but she wants to make sure that her mountain neighbors all have warm feet.

 

With the workshop in the back of the building, the Perry’s have the equipment to fix just about anything, coats, zippers, backpacks, belts, hats and purses. They can put on Vibram soles, revitalize those old hiking boots that fit perfectly. Robert says he has been in Nederland since 1998 and he’s pretty sure that the shop will stock the first full line of shoes since then.

 

 

(Originally published in the October 19, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)

 

 

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.