I turned my car down the long unpaved drive, inching forward under the green canopy of trees overhead. Sunlight filtered down through translucent leaves as I pulled closer, closer, c-l-o-s-e-r to the large barn. I put the car in park, climbed out and turned slowly to my left when SUDDENLY….there they were! Thousands of them right in front of me! Shoes! Row upon row of gorgeous vintage shoes!! What? Did I scare you?
Nothing scary about my visit to A Vintage Sole- www.avintagesole.com except how frightfully amazing it was! A longtime lover of all things vintage, I was intrigued by A Vintage Sole from the minute I heard about it. A barn deep in the woods filled with thousands of mint condition, unworn vintage shoes? How could I resist?! Since Mr. M and I were on vacation nearby, we decided to pop in for a visit. Owners Jim & Carol Brouwer were kind enough to spend a few hours with me talking shoes.
Just how does one acquire over 3,000 pairs of vintage shoes? Jim grew up in a shoe family, his parents operated several shoe stores in Wisconsin. However, he chose a different career path in life, married Carol and spent time living throughout the Midwest. Upon retirement the Brouwers moved to Michigan and decided to purchase a storefront in a nearby town that housed a longtime shoe store. See where this is going? While inspecting the building, they ventured into the basement where to his shock Jim discovered boxes of vintage shoes as far as the eye could see. “Literally, I could not move around that basement except in a crab crawl,” Jim said, “There were so many, many boxes.” When the former shop owner needed to make room for new stock, the old shoes were moved to the basement for storage. As Jim walked among them, he recognized the labels. “I knew these brands, good quality brands. And I also knew how rare some of these shoes were. A few of the companies aren’t even in business anymore,” Brouwer said.
After talking it over, they decided to purchase over 3,000 pairs of men’s, women’s and children’s shoes dating from the late 1930’s to the mid 1970’s. And just like that A Vintage Sole was born! Well, just like that and with a solid business plan! What sets the Brouwer’s shoes apart from any other vintage pair you’ve ever seen is that each one is literally unworn. Some had never even been taken out of the box! This means that you are purchasing a pair of “new” vintage shoes, not a pair that have been sweating on someone else’s feet. And the selection! A Vintage Sole has everything from 1950’s heels to original Go Go boots from the 1970’s (their biggest seller). It was all I could do not to tear into each box like a kid on Christmas morning! “We love it when customers share memories they have about a certain pair of shoes,”Carol says, “Shoes have memories, they really do!”
Here’s a little peek at a few women’s styles A Vintage Sole has in store:
And finally…my FAVORITE pair:
(Sigh..aren’t they dreamy? Much to my disappointment and Mr. M’s relieved wallet, they didn’t have them in my size.)
While shoes are available at their showroom, the Brouwers know not everyone can make it to northern Michigan. Shoppers can also purchase shoes directly from their website: www.avintagesole.com Bonus: If you enter the code BENZIE at checkout, you’ll save 15% on your entire order and 5% of your total will be donated to Benzie Food Partners, a local food bank. Now that’s HANTSTIC! Happy shopping friends!