Beebe’s Shoe Store Closing After Nearly a Century in Business in Downtown Cobourg

In Business, Editor Choice, Local

The oldest locally owned store in Cobourg is closing after nearly a century in business.

Beebe’s Footwear in downtown Cobourg will close its doors for the final time on Saturday, December 18, 2021 after 95 years in business owned by the same family.

Cobourg Mayor John Henderson and representatives of the town and DBIA stopped by the store on Friday, December 17, 2021 to present the owners with a certificate from the town and bouquets of flowers.

Henderson said the shoe store was the first place he visited and bought items after arriving in Cobourg 36-years ago.

Presenting the certificate to owners Ward and Sandy Beebe with long time employee Sandy Elliot (who has worked at the story for 50-years) Henderson said:

“Thank you for your service. On behalf of Cobourg Council and residents I commend you for 95 years of dedicated service to our community. I can only imagine all the relationships made and the changes your family has witnessed throughout the past century running Beebe’s. There must be so many wonderful memories of stories to tell. Without a doubt Beebe’s will be missed. Ward and Penny we wish you the best of luck and hope as you enjoy a happy, healthy and long retirement which is so well deserved. You can bask in the knowledge of a job well done.”
Councillor Adam Bureau from the DBIA said, “I know that when every entrepreneur that starts out, they wish longevity, but you guys have surpassed every wish that anybody could have dreamed of.”

While presentations were being made, customers were coming into the store to browse over the shoes that were on sale.

The store started in 1926 when Vernon Beebe came to Cobourg and purchased the business from Joseph Lalonde.

In 1960 Brenton Beebe came up from Nova Scotia with his family and purchased the store from his uncle. He had the store until 1985, when his son, Ward and Penny Beebe took it over and have had it for 36-years.

It has been at 33 King Street West for the entire time the story has been in operation.

The closing of the store has nothing to do with COVID explains Penny.

“For a few years, we’ve been talking about what are we going to do when we retire. Sandy has been with the store nearly 50-years has decided she was going to retire and we thought it was the perfect time for us to retire as well.”

The couples children have other careers so Ward and Penny thought, “it’s time to close.”

“The most popular memories people have of the store during the 60’s and 70’s and wondering when the shoe boxes would all fall.”

The store was narrow, the shoe boxes were piled four rows deep and people were always mesmerised how Brenton Beebe could always pull out a box, and “miraculously bring out the shoe that they needed and it would fit.”

Over the course of cleaning the upstairs, they’ve found old shoes.

“We have several styles of vintage shoes dating back at least to the 1930’s and I have one I’m guessing is from the 1920’s.”

The collection of old shoes throughout the years is on display in the front window of the store.

“Everyone can wander downtown over Christmas and have a look in our window at least.”

The couple have nothing but fond memories of the store and are happy to be leaving on their own terms.

When the key locks the door for the final time on Saturday, Penny said, “it will be one of a sigh of relief, but there is also going to be a little bit of tinge of the heart. We’ve been here a long time – and my husband growing up in the business, it’s hard for him to see it go. But he understands and is looking forward to moving ahead too.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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