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Hall’s Shoes finds perfect fit for retirement

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It's the end of an era in downtown Aledo.

"We do other things that other stores don't do," said Jerry Hall, 72.

Sign-covered windows lead the way to Hall's Shoes, 110 E. Main Street. That's where owner Hall is busy with customers.

"They come in because somebody takes care of them," he said.

This isn't a typical sale. The family business is closing after a remarkable 120 years on Main Street. Jerry and Janice Hall are retiring.

"Things have changed," Jerry said. "You have to do business differently than you did 20 years ago, or you just aren't going to be here."

That's the mantra for a downtown dealing with empty storefronts. Historic buildings that once bustled with activity now sit vacant. It's a symptom of changing times. Downtowns all over are trying to deal with it.

"You can't give up," said Pam Myers, executive director of Aledo Main Street. "It's too great of a town."

Myers is doing something about it. She joined two other women to open Vintage Button. Located inside a restored 19th Century hotel, 50 associates display a variety of gift items. The upscale Liberty Station offers fine dining upstairs. As the second go-round in this revived building, it's a case study for Aledo's downtown.

"People want that experience," Myers said. "They come because it's unique, and they can't find it in everyday places."

Hall's Shoes survived two world wars, competition from malls, a farm crisis and even the latest recession. It's a real landmark in Aledo.

But now it's the end of the run for this three-generation family business.

"It's time to get out," Hall said. "It's time for us to go to another chapter in our lives."

While Jerry Hall plans to stop selling shoes at the end of May, the Aledo resident is ready to help revive his downtown.

"His mentoring and his experience is a tool that we will take and use, and help somebody else fill these buildings," Myers said.

During a brief break in his final sale, Hall offered some advice for the downtown.

"I think Aledo will support a lot of businesses," he concluded. "I think it takes personal service and dedication."

Dedication from a rich past that's helping to guide this downtown's future.