“This is a picture in the late 1920′s of Atlanta,” Mark Shemaria said.
Shemaria said it’s one of his favorite photos, an old black and white shot featuring a shop along Broad Street: Bennie’s Shoe Repair.
Now, after 114 years, Bennie’s is closing.
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“As my grandpa used to say—Mr. Bennie—It was 95% butchers and 5% shoemakers out there. We were one of the 5%,” Shemaria told Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen.
Over the past 114 years, the shop’s been one of the 5%, nestled in a spot along Piedmont Road in Buckhead.
“You would have people who would come to Atlanta, and the first thing they’d do is come to Bennie’s Shoes,” Shemaria said.
Its clients were a who’s-who of those who wanted the very best in men’s footwear.
Clients included Congressman John Lewis, NBA great Charles Barkley, Outkast’s Andre 3000, and even Channel 2′s Clark Howard.
The folks at Bennie’s have repaired shoes, polished them, and sold them for more than a century. But Shemaria told Channel 2 Action News that the time has come to take a walk.
“The days where everybody used to get shoe repair is over,” he lamented.
Shemaria said the pandemic hit Bennie’s hard and had a big impact on consumers’ shopping habits.
He told Petersen that men don’t purchase as many pairs of shoes as they once did, and more and more customers buy online directly from the manufacturer.
Shemaria said he wasn’t ready to kick off his shoes and retire but in the end, he’s made good memories and great friends.
“As Sam Massell used to say, if you don’t drink Coca-Cola, don’t fly Delta, and don’t buy your shoes at Bennie’s---you weren’t from Atlanta,” Shemaria said.
Bennie’s Shoes will close its doors for good at the end of September.
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