The ‘Great American Shoe Store’

Posted August 6, 2013 at 11:00 pm

By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
Northeast News
August 7, 2013

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These days all you’ll find near the intersection of Eighth and Delaware streets is some green space and a few surface parking lots. But prior to the time when the Sixth Street Trafficway (now Interstate 70) first cut through the heart of downtown, the area was a bustling part of Kansas City’s garment district.

Published by E.W. Meredeth Advertising of Peoria, Ill., this promotional postcard shows the women’s shoe department of the G.R. Kinney Co. located at 814-18 Delaware Ave. The card depicts attentive salesmen helping women select pairs of shoes. The walls are lined with a huge variety of women’s shoes, all,
according to the description on the back, “Ladies Fine Footwear, $1.98-$3.98. The same shoes for less money.”

Such was G.R. Kinney’s mantra for his chain of stores then headquartered in upstate New York. The ambitious young George Romanta Kinney revolutionized footwear retailing by offering popularly priced shoes to working Americans. His concept of providing excellent service to customers, a commitment to local communities, the best footwear for the price, and ample opportunities and rewards for all employees remained a steady corporate-wide goal through the years.

Kinney’s fierce dedication to entrepreneurship made his business last 104 years. In 1998, the company ceased operations, closing all of its Specialty Footwear operations, including 467 Kinney shoe stores and 103 Footquarters stores. The “Great American Shoe Store” was no more.