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Medina shoe store to close after half century of business

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 June 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Bill Olinger, owner of Baughn’s Shoe Store at 438 Main St. in Medina, is retiring and will close the store at the end of August.

MEDINA – A mainstay in downtown Medina since 1960, Baughn’s Shoe Store, will close in late August.

Bill Olinger is selling the building to Laura Gardner, owner of a lily and a sparrow, a women’s clothing, jewelry and fragrance store. Gardner is moving her shop to 438 Main St. After renovating the site, she expects to reopen her store there in late November.

Olinger, 61, has spent a lifetime in the shoe business. His grandfather, Jim Baughn, opened his first store in Albion in 1957. That store was at the current Peter Snell Realtors building at 107 North Main St.

Olinger’s father Ralph Olinger joined the shoe business and the family had stores in Albion, Medina, Lockport, Geneseo and Warsaw. Bill Olinger started working in the business at age 13.

“We’ve had several generations of people coming here,” Olinger said this morning at the shoe store. “I’ve had kids that I fit for shoes bring their kids in and even their grandchildren.”

Olinger has worked with his wife Pat in the business. Besides selling shoes, they did sewing and alterations work. They also rent out tuxedos. Mrs. Olinger will take that business across the street to Blissett’s Specialty Shop after Baughn’s closes.

Bill Olinger talks with a customer on the phone this morning at the shoe store, a fixture in Medina’s downtown since 1960.

Olinger has sold brand name shoes at Baughn’s. He rejected the cheapest shoes, preferring to sell quality and service.

“It’s hard to go to a store and get your feet fit these days,” he said. “If you go to Wal-Mart, they point you to the shoe department and you’re on your own.”

Olinger put up a banner in the front window, announcing the store would soon be closing and he was retiring.

“We’ve had a lot of people come in and say hello and wish us good luck,” he said.

Olinger said shoe fads would come and go and his biggest challenge was trying to guess which styles would be popular with women.

“You have to pick out what women like and that can be a tough job,” he said. “We’d have 50 styles of women’s shoes and we’d be doing good if six or seven were popular.”

Olinger said he valued his repeat customers, who were critical in the business staying open for so many years.

Baughn’s will be selling shoes at discounted prices as it pushes to sell its inventory by late August. The store is open every day except Sunday.