Arensberg’s Shoes to close

Downtown shop to end 50-year run

Jack Arensberg, left, a founder of Arensberg's Shoes, and Tim Arensberg pause for a portrait at the downtown Lawrence store in this 1999 file photo.

Jack Arensberg, left, a founder of Arensberg's Shoes, and Tim Arensberg pause for a portrait at the downtown Lawrence store in this 1999 file photo.

November 14, 2008


Downtown shoe store closing

A staple of downtown Lawrence turns victim to a souring economy. Enlarge video

A staple of downtown Lawrence's retail scene has fallen victim to the souring economy.

The owners of Arensberg's Shoes announced Thursday that they are closing their Massachusetts Street store after 50 years in business.

"I've gone through recessions before, but I've never seen it like this," said Tim Arensberg, who is a co-owner of the family-owned business. "It has been tough. Our out-of-town business just isn't coming anymore."

Arensberg said he believes retailers may be entering a new era, one where consumers finally begin heeding the advice of financial planners who have urged people to spend less and save more.

"I think that is probably the mindset that we should have had all along, but the reality is that some stores are going to have to close as a result of it," Arensberg said.

The store, 825 Mass., closed its doors Thursday to begin preparing for a going-out-of business sale. The store will reopen on Nov. 20. Arensberg expects it to remain open through the holidays.

The business, founded by brothers Lee and Jack Arensberg, moved from Atchison to Lawrence in 1958. The business remained family-owned with Jack, Tim, Tom, Jeff and Andy Arensberg all working in the store.

The family has not decided what to do with the large downtown building, which previously was a Montgomery Ward's store.

"There already is a lot of interest," said Tim Arensberg, who said he had fielded three inquiries about the building since posting the going-out-of business sign on Thursday morning.

Arensberg said business had started to deteriorate over the last several years, especially on what used to be profitable Kansas University game days. He said the store - which had about 10 part-time employees - remained financially solvent, but the family determined it no longer was producing an adequate return on its investment.

"We've had phenomenal customers," Arensberg said. "It has been a great ride. I'm sorry that we've had to come to this decision. I'll feel like I'm letting people down by not being here."


sherbert 9 years, 7 months ago

I used to love to shop there, but quit going completely because the styles got way too trendy. This town has people other than KU students who want to buy shoes.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 7 months ago

Too me, almost everything downtown is priced to high. Part of the reason retail is about dead downtown.

iplaysupernintendo 9 years, 7 months ago

I never enjoyed shopping here. Every time I went in, no one would ever say hello or even give me a simple smile, HOWEVER, they would hang out near the cash register and stare at me the whole time making me very uncomfortable. I won't miss this store.

SMe 9 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps, just perhaps, if they hadn't treated me as a Ghost moving through their store a couple of years ago I would've gone back. I needed new shoes badly that day.

Weezy_Jefferson 9 years, 7 months ago

I've wanted to buy shoes from them several times in the past, but the prices were always too high.

PapaB 9 years, 7 months ago

I gave them one chance and was ignored while the prices were too high. If your prices are high, you better have the best customer service.

Mike Willoughby 9 years, 7 months ago

SMe, I hear ya! Maybe if they had smiled once in a while...You'd think if you're the only customer in a shop with five people working, you'd be acknowledged. (However much I would love to pin that one on George W., I don't think that he is to blame.)Still, I think it's sad when any downtown business doesn't make it. This will leave a gaping hole on Mass St.

The_riot_is 9 years, 7 months ago

Maybe Brown's will move in. Their current store is packed and they actually ask you if you need help when you're in the store.

roger_o_thornhill 9 years, 7 months ago

I heard somewhere that Don Johnson (of Miami Vice fame) worked there...Is that true?

guesswho 9 years, 7 months ago

Must have been that darn smoking ban...

BigPrune 9 years, 7 months ago

That sounds like a government bailout.

gccs14r 9 years, 7 months ago

Men's shoes are pretty consistent sizewise if you buy the euro size, rather than the American size. A 9 may be an 8.5 or a 10, but a 42 is a 42, in my experience. As for trying them on, free shipping both ways makes that pretty easy.

Bob Harvey 9 years, 7 months ago

"Arensberg said business had started to deteriorate over the last several years, especially on what used to be profitable Kansas University game days. He said the store - which had about 10 part-time employees - remained financially solvent, but the family determined it no longer was producing an adequate return on its investment"I find it interesting that the above paragraph only appeared late into the article. The store is solvent but the family wasn't making "enough" for their needs or desires. Probably did not want to go over that $250,000 threshhold.No one to blame here. It was strictly the family's business decision.

Xwards 9 years, 7 months ago

I think its those roundabouts. People get caught in them and can't get out to buy their shoes.

Confrontation 9 years, 7 months ago

I don't know why a store with $50 flipflops is going out of business. Strange.

hawklet21 9 years, 7 months ago

Bummer. I will miss drooling over their shoes in the window.

madameX 9 years, 7 months ago

I don't know about everything downtown being priced to high. If you compare to Target or something maybe, but if you got to Oak Park Mall, there's really not that much of a price difference. Pleiku, what makes you think that a store that is no longer producing an "adequate return" is somehow at the same time likely to be making over $250,000? Even if a business is trying to avoid the move to the next tax bracket, do you really thing shutting down is the best way to go about that? There are plenty of things a business can do to keep its income under a certain amout (paying employees more, lowering prices) if that's their goal. The idea that someone will deliberately make less money, just because they might have to pay a higher tax rate on the top bit of it is ridiculous.

BigAl 9 years, 7 months ago

"This is also only the beginning of the closures."************I've been hearing this since I moved here 20 years ago.

XEPCT 9 years, 7 months ago

The Arensbergs are such a nice family, this saddens me..... and you guys actually buy shoes online? Don't you like to try them on first? I'll buy other clothing online, the boutiques in Lawrence don't really have my style; but shoes, I gotta try before I buy ... it's all about comfort ...

bearded_gnome 9 years, 7 months ago

liked shopping there however I started with Columbia boots, very good. then, they stopped stocking them, sold me Merrells for twice the price, half the quality. and now I wear Columbias again, have to get them from Zappos. so they lost my business.

lawthing 9 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps they will be selling on ebay!

Kookamooka 9 years, 7 months ago

We'll have to see how well people spend during the holiday season. In January, the signs will start going up. One thing that might help- If the landlords lower their rents, the stores can lower their prices and people might be able to afford the goods. I'm afraid its going to be a Walmart Christmas.

wysiwyg69 9 years, 7 months ago

I would rather have no christmas than a **cking walmart christmas. Anyway what retard said christmas was about shopping.

haywire 9 years, 7 months ago

move their financial svcs office into this building. the building is charming.

lazz 9 years, 7 months ago

yeah, don johnson worked there for a year or two in the early 70s.Arensberg's was a great store, a real anchor for that block. The retailers that for decades made that such a prime shopping block are basically gone: Royal College Shop, Arensberg's, Whitenights, Campbell's, Britches Corner (as an up-scale store for both men and women), the Jay Shoppe ... gone gone gone ... I'm not going to cry in my beer about the reshaping of the business-scape, it's natural, everything moves in cycles, but these were business that banded together and in the late 70s/early 80s and insisted that Lawrence fight what was then called the "corn-field mall," the idea of an Oak Park-style shopping mall going in south of town and ruining downtown. They -- we -- won that battle, only to now have downtown transform under their feet into an entertainment, rather than shopping, district, and the big-box cut-rate retailers sidestepping the full-blown mall proposal by building their own city-block-sized mini-malls ... well, at any rate, it's certainly the end of an era. If we can't have their store, at least we still have the Arensbergs here in town. Cheers to that.

lawrencechick 9 years, 7 months ago

Wow, and they're not even asking for a bailout. Admirable!

ForThePeople 9 years, 7 months ago

Anonymous userroger_o_thornhill (Anonymous) says:I heard somewhere that Don Johnson (of Miami Vice fame) worked there:Is that true?I think he worked at Whitenights clothing store when he went to school here. I may be wrong though.Sad to see Arensbergs go. It has been a staple for a very long time, and when they had their dot sales, I found many times that shoes I wouldn't have afforded otherwise to be within reason. I too will miss drooling over the styles in the window.

garrenfamily 9 years, 7 months ago

This is a great company. I am so sorry to see this happen.

kidicarus 9 years, 7 months ago

Their prices were too high for me. Same with the toy store downtown. I'd buy local if I could afford it, but it's hard to pay double for something I can get online.

50YearResident 9 years, 7 months ago

I hear the city wants to buy the building and turn it into a homeless center. It is in a zoned business area. Then the panhandlers won't have so far to walk for their handouts.

misseve 9 years, 7 months ago

This is sad but i see great shoes in my future...

tin 9 years, 7 months ago

Larry_The_Moocher (Anonymous) says: logrithmic (Anonymous) says:Rightwingers and George W. Bush deserve all the blame. Welcome to the new world order. I guess Arensberg should now be the new face of RepubLICKlan opportunism, now that Joe the Plumber is running for Congress.It is unfortunate. I have shopped there and enjoyed the experience. Good luck to the family.++++++++++++++++++++++Someone needs to slap the living crap out of you. What an idiot.^ 2nd that. Something is way wrong with a bunch of people in these blogs.

dub2 9 years, 7 months ago

Yes, it is true that Don Johnson worked there, I have worked there before also. It is sad to see such a great family business that has been there for 50 years have to go because of the economy. I loved working there, and maybe a couple people had some bad experiences, but you are not everybody, and you can't please everybody. The shoes were expensive, because they were nice name brand shoes. and $50 flip flops really aren't that bad when they are good quality and good looking. Arensbergs was about fashion and comfort shoes, while Browns is about comfort only, so downtown is going to have a huge loss. Britches and Kius sell fashion shoes, but they aren't' comfortable at all, and the heel usually breaks off in 2 wears. Arensbergs was always willing to work with you if something went wrong. There was great managment.

baby82 9 years, 7 months ago

While working for Tim one of the main tenets he pushed was that good customer service helped make sales. He did not say, "hey, make sure to only smile to a certain 'kind' of person." I made $500+ sales to guys wearing clothes that looked slept in for days on end. You never knew who was coming through those doors; that's why we were told to meet each and every person with a friendly greeting followed by some sort of question of interest, be it "is there anything I can help you with" or "if you need any help at all, just let me know" or whatever schtick seemed most genuine depending upon the employee. There were times that I remember sitting with customers for at least an hour, leading to a parking ticket from the lovely City of Lawrence parking department but no sale b/c a) we did not have exactly what the customer was looking for or b) he/she/they just wanted to try shoes on for the fun of it. Although I couldn't do anything other than try to please the latter group, you can be sure that I was quick to offer suggestions of where the shoe we didn't have if they couldn't be ordered could be gotten for the former category. That was another important quality of good customer service: show that you're willing to help even if it doesn't benefit you directly. What really irks me about some of these comments is that there are so many people who were annoyed with the level of customer service Arensberg's employees exhibited on the other side of the spectrum. People would scowl when you said hello or they would immediately keep themselves cut off from reality that they were surrounded by people ready to provide assistance by talking on their phone the entire time or keeping their ipods up and on. If on the phone, we were told to politely wait until the person was done with their conversation to ask if any help was needed. Nonetheless, we were required to remain friendly and helpful. I'm not doubting that some employees probably strayed from these 'Arensbergs precepts to quality customer service', but that couldn't be helped unless Tim knew an employee had acted poorly. If people had bad experiences, they should have said something. Don't high and mightily attribute a bad experience to a good family's decision to call it quits.

dub2 9 years, 7 months ago

There aren't the same shoes at Kohls and JCPenneys. These are name brand shoes, and I can gurantee you that the shoes you buy at Kohls and Penneys are not good for your feet and have absolutely no arch support or any kind of support for that matter. That is why their shoes were more expensive, because the whole sale price is more expensive. Does Kohls sell shoes that were made in Europe? I don't think so! And if they did, they would be $90 too, trust me.

greenworld 9 years, 7 months ago

Baby84- I dont believe anyone is pointing any fingers here. I think people are stating their experiences of how they felt when they were inside the store and it sounds like all to many either got ignored or were kind of put off. That is not good customer service, sorry. I dont care if you been in busy for 100 years I will never believe that. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion and you want to make them believe that they overlooked having a good experience when that is not the case. As far as the guy retiring he probably knew he was at the end of the road and probably saw the writing on the wall. If I remember right one of the Arensberg brothers got into insurance, he was the smart one. There is no money in selling shoes. I do know that they were the highest in town. Francis Sporting Goods is the same way, pretty high when you can go to Dicks or Walmart and get the same thing cheaper. This isnt these business faults of whats happening here, it's another case of the big guy gets bigger and the middle to small company either has to S!!t or get off the pot. I think Arensbergs ran out of chips to put in.

black_butterfly 9 years, 7 months ago

I am sad to see any family buisness go under, however I have to agree with SME, Sense and others. When I was a KU student I liked to shop their "dot" sales, but they were never polite to me. I noticed they were only polite to certain "types" of customers. I was always nicely dressed, polite and smiled at them, but no one ever said hello or asked if I needed help. I've only gone in there a few more times since then and still the same treatment. Like someone else said, if you are going to have shoes that expensive you'd better have excellent customer service which means being polite and helpful to every customer, not just certain ones. Best wishes for the family though.

gccs14r 9 years, 7 months ago

Oh, and the only reason we kept going back is because of the store credit. I went in and bought a pair of shoes as a gift. They didn't work, so the recipient returned them. It had been more than 30 days since they were purchased, so she could only get store credit. It took about four trips before something came in that she liked and it took that many trips before anybody would even talk to her, and then only on my insistence.

gl0ck0wn3r 9 years, 7 months ago

"gccs14r (Anonymous) says: A lot of online retailers charge tax based on the billing address. Expect more of that, not less."Yes, but many don't. If the government really wants to hurt the economy, it could start there.

FalconCrest 9 years, 7 months ago

Greenworld, here you say "I dont believe anyone is pointing any fingers here,"but earlier we have this gem from - gasp - Greenworld:"I know the Arensbergs and yes you are correct, they only smile at certain people and it was the ones that bought 2-3 pairs of shoes from them a week. That's called good service..huh"That's not just finger-pointing, it's slanderous. You've contradicted yourself in your comments on this page and you're ignoring the blatant facts (Kohls, Dicks, etc. do not sell the same quality shoes and that the business is still financially-solvent).It's obvious you have an agenda or a complete misunderstanding of the story here. Why keep coming back to repost the same made-up stuff? Why rudely bring up one of the other Arensberg brothers and call him 'the smart one' for getting into insurance? I don't know the other brother (or Tim for that matter), but as a businessman, I'd much rather inherit a sound business with an already-loyal customer base than get into the insurance field.I said this earlier and I'll say it again - they made a family-run business work for 50 years. Most people posting couldn't do that. Let's celebrate their accomplishment and getting out on their own terms (instead of, you know, half the people at insurance behemoth AIG) instead of throwing libelous remarks about someone's brother making a better career choice.

sinkorswim 9 years, 7 months ago

I hate that Arensberg's is closing! They have been my primary shoe store for 43 years. We moved here when I was four and they were the only place we could get my corrective shoes...that I begrudgingly wore until I was 12-13 years old. They did a great job with a kid who hated wearing ugly shoes. Once I was allowed to wear "real" shoes, they still would "ok" or "veto" my shoe selection. This continued until Larry retired. He, in particular, was a godsend to my entire family. We have people with super-skinny feet and are difficult to fit. I can say I received great help everytime I entered the store...whether I bought anything or not.Admittedly, their prices are/were higher...but you receive a higher quality shoe than you do at JCPenney, Kohl's, Famous Footwear, etc. More than worth the price difference, in my opinion. I'll definitely be at the store Thursday, hoping to get a some great shoes from a great last time.I wish the Arensberg family good luck for the future. I hope Larry Flottman is having a spectacular retirement. You deserve it! Thanks to all of the Arensberg's staff for 50 great years!!

dub2 9 years, 7 months ago

Your lucky you even got store credit, that was a violation of our return policy too, so quit bashing on the store. I also find it hard to believe that out of 4 times no one talked to her. Sure, we had some employees that were not always the greatest, but no even half, usually only 1 or 2. I imagine that atlest one of those times she was the only customer in the store, which means Larry helped her, which means she didn't WANT help, or was talking on her cell phone, or just flat out ignored him.

eel 9 years, 7 months ago

Not many mom & pop / Family retail shops on Mass left.. City Goverment takes most of the blame...

deskboy04 9 years, 7 months ago

I could never afford the shoes there.

greenworld 9 years, 7 months ago

I know the Arensbergs and yes you are correct, they only smile at certain people and it was the ones that bought 2-3 pairs of shoes from them a week. That's called good service..huh Anyway maybe Lastcall can move in there. I think Dennis is starting to feel an itch.

greenworld 9 years, 7 months ago

What wipes out a business is a downtown business that continue to want to charge 70.00-90.00 for a pair of shoes where you can buy the same exact shoe at Kohls for 30.00-40.00. Hello this isnt rocket science. People bargain shop and everybody is looking for the best bang for the buck. Arensberg's cant sell shoes for the lower price its against their religion.

baby84 9 years, 7 months ago

My god you all just don't get it do you......I find it hard to believe that you continued to enter a store with such bad customer service. Maybe like an adult-buisness person you should of made a suggestion or placed a call if it was that bad. Instead you wait for the moment there is a news article and hide behind your computer to complain...they are trying to go out honorably and say thank you to the community and I am sure expect (and deserve) the same respect. Places with that poor of customer service don't stay in buisness as long as they did....hmmmm kinda says something about them. And you also don't keep employees if you have such a bad work enviroment...we all got paid+commission and gee I don't think I could of stayed there if I wasn't selling stuff must of done something right...don't ya think. Also I had forgot to mention the lifer's of the buisness earlier...Thanks Missy, Kara, Audra, Larry, Don, Kendra and everyone else I forgot b/c I happen to think your customer service was fantastic thats why before I even began to work there I was a repeat customer! You people need to get over yourselves stop pointing fingers and shut your mouths if you don't have anything nice to say. And give this family the respect they deserve for all that they have done for this community. And just to let you all know there must of been alot of training going on this summer you have to give people a break an employee who worked there for at least 40+ years retired at the end of the summer, and the other two full time employees graduated that had been there for several years give them a break there have been alot of changes in these past several months and my god they had great customer service and I refuse to believe other wise. So anyone that would like to share good memories and express there graditude to the family for saving them when they had that last minute interview or event and were saved ( as I was on more than one occassion) please share those times and thank this family for everything!!!!

gl0ck0wn3r 9 years, 7 months ago

"gccs14r (Anonymous) says: Not really any difference in taxes between here and Topeka or KC."There is quite a difference between Lawrence and online retailers. It will be interesting to see how this and other potential store closings will change the city's math regarding the sales tax and funding the T. Perhaps they'll be back for more money even more quickly than I expect.

TheEleventhStephanie 9 years, 7 months ago

I, for one, will really miss this store. I was always treated well when I shopped there and their customer service was unbeatable. The people who think they were overpriced must be used to buying cheap junk shoes that last less than a season. There are two kinds of shoe stores: The Arensberg type and the Pay Less type. Footprints is okay, but downtown won't be the same w/o Arensbergs...Brown's is kind of an old-lady shoe store I think.

jflottman1 9 years, 7 months ago

I'm really saddened that Arensberg's is closing. This store has been part of my family's life for nearly 45 years. That's when my family moved to Lawrence and my dad went to work there. Until June of this year he worked six days a week doing the only thing he ever did-selling shoes. Along the way he helped thousands put a little spring in their step. Arensberg's will always have a place in my memory. I remember as a kid, in grade school and junior high, going in to the store to see my dad. There were always lots of college guys working there (the first woman-other than Mary, didn't work there until the late seventies). I'm sure during those visits I heard a few things from those guys that a 10 year old shouldn't. But to this day, more than thirty years later, I can still remember many of those guys. Don Johnson did work there-they've got one of his paychecks hanging in the back room (he's not one of the ones that I remember). I finally got to be one of those guys-working after class in high school and then while at KU. We had some great times as a group-whether it was working the floor, running shoes or sending the new kid after the shelf stretcher. Not to mention way too much fun on the occasional trips to Tasso's. Ouzo for everyone!My dad poured his heart and soul into making sure that each customer's experience was a great one. I'm sure in fifty years of being in business there were unhappy customers but they were far out-numbered by the satisfied ones. The idea of doing everything you could to take care of the customer started at the top with Jack and my dad and was taught to each one of us that worked there. I learned a lot about life just by selling shoes.They taught me to go the extra mile to make sure that the shoe fit. That's one of the things you paid for at Arensberg's-service. Try getting that at Kohls or Wal-Mart. Ask the minimum wage clerk on the floor there (if you can find one) to stretch a shoe just a little in the toe. Not going to happen. But it looks like that's the way of the world. We want low prices, high quality and service. You can't have all three together-in fact low prices all but rule out the last two. But, some people are willing to pay more for quality products and service. With the demise of Arensberg's it'll be harder for them to get that. Guess we'll just have to hope that Kohl's will fill that void. So, as Arensberg's closes, I just want to send out a public thank you to my dad, Larry Flottman, for a job well done-as a loyal employee, boss and a father. Here's to you Dad!!Do you have that in a seven and half AAA?

dub2 9 years, 7 months ago

mustbhiorlo, there was no gossiping. Sure, the employees talked amongst ourselves about our lives, but never about anyone else. We were a family unit.

baby82 9 years, 7 months ago

Although it's disappointing to hear that people had less than stellar experiences at Arensberg's, my personal recollections fondly, I remember Arensberg's as the place that paid my bills through college include many a repeat shopper and newly made customer based on customer service alone. As the world gets more impersonal through technology and easier access to goods, it was nice to know that the majority of the time you would get a positive experience at Arensberg's. The people who had worked there for a long period of time really knew their shoes. As lame as that may sound, it's not too easy to come in contact with a person who could tell you what the best shoe was for someone grappling with plantar fasciitis while telling this someone's daughter what shoe would look best with her prom dress. For a store that stayed in business for 50 years, they must have been doing something right. While there is no excuse for having a lousy experience at a retail store in business for the sole oh, how I love lame puns - purpose of making customers happy enough to create a growing clientele, it's quite presumptuous to even remark that one bad experience could contribute to the demise of a Lawrence trademark. I know so many people who have been going there for years, long enough that they're now taking their children's children to new pairs of Stride Rites. In any case, I wanted to express my great admiration for a store that kept itself as true to Lawrence as it could for 50 whole years tight nit with care for the community.

greenworld 9 years, 7 months ago

Walmart is not the reason Arensbergs went out of business. Arensbergs made their money obviously and I believe once they did and had to start dipping into their reserve or own pockets they folded up the tent and called it over. They are not dumb people or they wouldnt have been in business for as long as they were. They were just another business like Eastons, Johnson furniture just to name a couple that couldnt keep up with the times. I know Johnson furniture's lease went up from like 750.00 to 1800.00 month and it wasnt about another year or two that went by and they sold out. Downtown has some pretty greedy people and this is suppose to be the pride of Lawrence Ks. Sad to say it but I never drive down it, always around it on New Hampshire going home. I use to think it was a rather beautiful drive going through downtown but not anymore.

Aileen Dingus 9 years, 7 months ago

I'm with all who said they'd miss the window shopping. I have gotten a few pairs of shoes there, but honestly- only during sidewalk sales. Their prices aren't that much more than other stores carrying the same brands, so that's not really something they could change. They could have gone and sold the same POS shoes as Target, Payless, Walmart or Kohl's, but that's not what the store was for.Pity. Now I'll have to get my Steve Maddens online. :(

sfjayhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

I liked that place, good service - bought my first pair of 'professional' shoes there shortly before graduation. Black Cole Hann oxfords. Had them for at least 10 years.

gccs14r 9 years, 7 months ago

Not really any difference in taxes between here and Topeka or KC.

FalconCrest 9 years, 7 months ago

Baby82 hit the nail on the head, it's a sad sight to see a place that's family- and locally-owned own go out of business. It's a sad trade-off to see the general public consistently migrate towards the Targets, Wal-Marts, Paylesses, etc. and forsake local ownership that promotes a solid product along with customer service that actually serves its customer base.All those of you who want to blame Bush can stuff it. I'm a hardcore anti-Bush member (proudly since early '03 unlike most of the sheepish bandwagoners in this country), but you can't blame the man for the fact that "mom and pop" stores have become an endangered species. It's WE, CONSUMERS, who are to blame. WE made our choice many years ago to throw away community virtue in favor of lower prices lower prices lower prices! WE all do it, so look in a mirror before you look to Washington. The dominoes that lead to stores like Arensberg's closing are so far removed from Bush, Obama, or, frankly, anyone who's still relevant in Washington save for the few survivors of the Robert Byrd generation, that it's simply dumb to see this as a political issue anymore.And I wonder if some of you read the part of the article that says the store is still financially solvent? That's a damn near miracle in the world of independent shoe salesmen (try finding a former supplier of mid-to-upper-quality shoes and ask them how they went extinct...). The family just decided it's not a good investment in the future, and who can blame them? Getting out of independent retail - hey, what a novel idea? JP Morgan isn't investing in independent retail, and many of you want to hold it against a local family or cry about it?Good lord. It's called economic sense. Most of the critics here couldn't make a retail operation stay in the black, and many here are so ignorant in macroeconomics they think George Bush flipped some magic switch that made the money machine stop.No wonder we're in a friggin' recession. But I digress. It's sad to see a local, devoted business go out of business and leave behind an echo of a day when a community could keep its money circulating locally. My thoughts go out to the former employees and I wish the owners the best of luck in any future ventures.

baby84 9 years, 7 months ago

I can't believe that some of you people can sit here and bash a family such as the Arensberg's... shame on you. This should of been a chance for people to thank them for either good memories or like me thank you for the oppurtunity to work there. And I do...Thank you. They became my family for a short while and not only do I have memories from when I was a little girl running around the store while my grandmother picked out a pair of shoes I remember the good times stocking shoes and laughing with the other employee's. We were all friends not only in the work place but outside of it. Tim and Jack who put so many hours into that place deserve a pat on the back for such a good run (not to menition the hours Mary put in behind the scene's). And not to forget to mention the adopted into the family Larry who spent many a years working there and I can remember almost every day him having people coming in just to work with him. So for you all to say there was no customer service I find it very hard to believe. We always said "hi how are you all doing today...if theres anything I can help you with please let me know." I happen to think that is appropriate b/c for me when I am shopping I prefer not to be stocked and followed. And as it has been said before it wasn't what you looked like or what you were wearing we always helped you I can remember helping a homeless man for an hour not selling anything but because that was my job if someone wanted to try something on we did it. So Shame on you people for degrading this family and trying to take away from what I am sure is a hard departure from their home away from home for 50 years you should be just ashamed of yourlseves. There isn't many jobs that you can work at and really know the owner's and their families I have to tell you I can name 3 generations of them it was a wonderful buisness with a wonderful family running it! And for me and many others I will miss you but wish you all luck in the future!

JohnBrown 9 years, 7 months ago

I will miss Jack and Tim, and their place on Mass St. I am glad that they can still leave the business remaining pretty much whole.The city will miss their sales tax revenues, but the city was warned, numerous times, that overbuilding retail would eventually produce a zero-sum game (e.g. added sales tax revenues from the newer retail areas would be countered by lower retail sales tax revenues from the older areas, plus the possibility of blight should it become epidemic).

gccs14r 9 years, 7 months ago

Baby84, it's "should have", not "should of." You're trying to spell out the contraction "should've."

greenworld 9 years, 7 months ago

No one really cares about service now like they did 10-20 yrs ago. I went to their business when I was a young kid 20 some years ago. Now I buy all my shoes from Kohl's and Im afraid for them that everyone else does also. They probably started to feel the slide when one- more bars less businesses started moving into downtown and two- they built kohls and famous footwear out south of Lawrence I think nailed them pretty good.

dub2 9 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for thank yous baby84! I was one of the graduates from this summer that had to leave after 2 1/2 years, and watching this store go is one the biggest heartbreaks ever. My parents have been going into Arensbergs since before I was born, and my dad who has lived in Georgia for the last 8 years and hasn't been around much can't believe what is happening to such a great family and a great store. Something obviously has kept my parents going back there for 20 years, and me working there until I had to go. And why did you keep going back, if the customer service was so bad?

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

Bottom line; there are not enough retail dollars in Lawrence,Kansas to support all of the existing retail.Why approve more retail? That is unfriendly to existing retail and unfriendly to taxpayers. It is also fiscally irresponsible government.

gccs14r 9 years, 7 months ago

And you wonder why the store is closing....

gkwhdw 9 years, 7 months ago

I miss the ambience of old downtown Lawrence when I was young. You could walk down the street at dusk and hear the sounds of the pigeons chirpping and go get a wonderful ice cream at the Velvet Freeze ice cream shop in the sevenhundred block. They had the best watermelon sherbet. As soon as you strolled by any of the shoe shops you immediately were embraced with the fragrant smell of leather. It was a nice smell and was an acquired smell I only experienced in downtown Lawrence. When Litwin's shoe shop went out of business we missed them too. They weren't quite as trendy as Arensbergs, but they were family owned too. They had a store in Ottawa too. As a child I knew mom couldn't really afford Arensberg's so I never expected her to buy from there. As an adult I didn't feel I missed out on anything so I buy from Jc Penny's and by the way their shoes were never cheaply made, Ive always thought they possessed good quality. People now days just go according to what their pocketbookswant to do, why pay more if the same thing is cheaper somewhere else? The little guy doesn't probably buy in as large a volume as the big guy, so his will cost more. All in all, the little town atmosphere in Lawrence is surely deteriorating but things change that we cannot control. Life goes on. I still love Lawrence,Ks.

gl0ck0wn3r 9 years, 7 months ago

"Richard 'give me your money' Heckler (Anonymous) says: Bottom line; there are not enough retail dollars in Lawrence,Kansas to support all of the existing retail."A) Learn how to use a comma.B) If there aren't enough retail dollars in Lawrence, why did you support taxing retail and thus lowering the amount of retail dollars available? Your advocacy for a regressive tax that hurts both the poor and local business will result in more store closings as people choose to spend their money outside of Lawrence (as an example, see people advocating zappos). Congratulations.

greenworld 9 years, 7 months ago

Good run guys...when is the sale going to be? Please tell me you are going to mark down your shoes more than 5%.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 7 months ago

the service was good, and I surely wished I could've kept shopping there! the really old guy who was the salesman in there was worth any extra price for the shoes. but literally the Merrills were twice the price and very bad boots. good luck to the family. you guys can be proud of a fine fifty years!TV channel - Fox News. NBC and its affiliates are all owned by defense contractor General Electric. Disney hired former Fox anchor Charles Gibson to runI love it, Logrithmic is so demented he downs NBC and its affiliates, while citing an link as evidence against the Bush econ policies! first, MSNBC is not unbiased. second, they certainly are a subsidiary of that evil NBC!ha-ha-ha!any review of logrithmic's posts shows a seriously overtaxed and fevered mind full of amazing paranoid delusions. for example, a few months ago he had solved the case of the bombing of the animal-testing bio scientists at University of California Santa Cruz. That bombing, he said, had to be "a false flag operation" carried out by our government in order to distract us from the anthrax scandal! there ya' go!

bearded_gnome 9 years, 7 months ago

Of course, who I really blame are the rightwingers who installed Bush for a second term. During this second term, Herr Bush increased his repression herein the U.S.(illegal wiretapping, doing away with habeus corpus, making U.S. citizens subject to military tribunals, etc.), while spending what Nobel Laureatethanks for the laughs! just your spelling alone denies any "intelligent thought" that might be behind such rantings! in '04 Bush was reelected by a large majority. oh, but in your tortured mind, all the machines were tampered with; shizzayam! in '06 and '08 those pesky machines weren't hacked! amazing. Logie, whatever cause you're trying to further, you're actually shooting it in the foot with your demented exclamations. check your spelling on the last line of your post too. thanks for proving what I said: overtaxed, fevered mind. QED.

Kookamooka 9 years, 7 months ago

Why do they have to charge more? Is their rent more expensive? I'm guessing that they own the building. If they do...they can rent it for more than they will see in sales. If they don't the next starry eyed wife of a rich man can open a shop to keep them busy. If it stays empty, like the store front beneath Hobbs Taylor Lofts, then we have blight.

gccs14r 9 years, 7 months ago

On several occasions this summer my GF and I went in there, me to browse and her to buy something. They would come ask me if I needed help, but completely ignore her. I finally had to say "I'm just browsing, but she needs help" to get someone to even give her the time of day. We would not have persisted in going in there, but my GF had store credit from a gift return. She finally did find something to buy, but it was Tim who helped her with that, not one of the worthless girls who were wandering the floor looking bored.

Lori Tapahonso 9 years, 7 months ago

Interesting...I see a lot of former employee's commenting here. I wish you were my sales person the several times I went into that store. I've lived in Lawrence for over 17 years and have NEVER had a decent visit into that store! I would go in every now and then (with a forgiving heart) to take a closer look at the shoes in the window...always with the intent to buy if it flattered. I was NEVER acknowledged with a hello, may I help you. Finally learned my lesson and avoided the shoe store. Terrible customer service and just plain unfriendly people from the owners to the employees.Sad they are closing...but not difficult to believe. They probably would have had many more repeat customers, not just a browsers, if they learned how to treat everyone like "potential" customers!!

gccs14r 9 years, 7 months ago

"There is quite a difference between Lawrence and online retailers."A lot of online retailers charge tax based on the billing address. Expect more of that, not less.

kansasdali 9 years, 7 months ago

BTW, eleventhstepahanie, I am not an old lady and I shopped there. I shopped both stores, and they carry pretty much the same stuff.

kansasdali 9 years, 7 months ago

I second what The_Riot_is said. I have been shopping at Browns for a few years now and love it. I shopped at Arensbergs for years until they just stopped helping me. Browns was much better with their service. I always felt like Arensbers just hired kids off the street, but it seems like Browns has people who actually know about shoes and foot problems and actually care! I am not sad to see Arensbergs go, it only reinforces that I made a good decision changing my loyalty. It seems like everytime I go in there they are busy...maybe thats the problem with economy for Arensbergs.

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