In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, many local companies are choosing to rebuild, and continue conducting business in Marianna.
Windham Shoe Shop is one of these businesses. William Dennis Creamer explained how Hurricane Michael was the worst storm he had seen in 65 years. “I helped during Hurricane Andrew, but I’ve never seen anything like this storm, which was so strong and wide.” His store lost both awnings, a window and experienced roof damage. However, with no losses inside, Creamer decided to open before electricity was restored to help workers get their shoes repaired.
Clarence Windham opened Windham Shoe Shop in 1959, which was originally located on Market and Jackson Streets. The business was later sold to Creamer in 1984. Creamer learned the trade of shoe repair under the instruction of Windham, and was eager to step up to operate a business, which is still successful nearly sixty years later.
What makes Windham Shoe Shop successful in a time where it is often cheaper to throw away an item and purchase a new one? Creamer offers personalized service and an eagerness to go the extra mile to help his customers. “Once a man came in who had lost a toe,” Windham explained, “and I built a brace to prevent him from falling forward.” He went on to tell of how some chiropractors send patients to him for installation of Spinco Arch Supports. Creamer repairs shoe soles, heels and unsewn sections of shoes. He is able to repair purses, boots and leather vests. He also has added metal taps to shoes for dancers for many years.
In addition to shoe repair, Creamer sells square and round toe western boots, sandals, work boots, belts and purses, many of which are American made and some made in southern Alabama. Some of his customers include Jackson County, the City of Marianna, the Marianna Federal Prison, the local Division of Forestry, and the Army Corp of Engineers. “I have customers that travel from DeFuniak Springs,” Creamer added.
Creamer moved to Marianna from Washington County in 1973. He quickly fell in love with Eunie Smith, and the couple has been married for more than 45 years now. “I love Jackson County,” Creamer said. “The people here have been good to me returning year after year,” he continued. “In fact, they are more than customers, they are my friends.”
Creamer is training Chase Elkins to take over his business. He described that the techniques are special, but not difficult. “Mr. Windham told me if I fixed the shoes like he told me to, I wouldn’t have to advertise, and that has been true.”
What a great business to have in Marianna, especially during the storm recovery period! You can visit Windham Shoe Shop at 4408 Lafayette Street, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Tuesdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. For information call Creamer at 850-482-4227. Visit the City of Marianna’s website at http://www.mariannafl.city/335/New-Businesses-and-Other-Community-News to learn more about new and existing businesses. Shop locally and support Marianna businesses.
Kay Dennis, MBA, MPA, A.I.C.P., is the director of Municipal Development for the City of Marianna.