February 4, 2010

Coffrin’s Closing Leaves Big Shoes to Fill on Memphis Square

After serving the community for more than 70 years, a local family-owned shoe store closed its doors at the end of 2009. Aloha Coffrin officially called it quits on December 12, 2009.

Coffrin’s Shoe Store had been in business since April 4, 1974, when Aloha and Rex Coffrin purchased Bradley Shoe Store from Paul and Madge Bradley. The Bradleys had owned and operated the shoe store for 32 years after buying the fledgling business from Earnest Bervin who had opened the store just two years earlier during World War II.

“When we bought the store, Brown Shoe Company of St. Louis, sent a representative up to help with the transition,” said Aloha.

In 1974 the store offered new stock from Pedwin and Rob Lee as well as Miss America and children’s Step Master shoes with Converse being the brand of choice for athletics according to Coffrin.

“There were more than 13,000 pairs of shoes on hand when we opened,” Aloha said. “A cattle trough was borrowed from Hopkins Lumber and it was loaded with women’s shoes priced at 97 cents. With three cents sales tax that meant the shoes sold for $1 a pair.”

But it was the specialty items the store offered that brought the most joy to the owners.

“We worked with different manufacturers that could craft custom shoes to meet the special needs of our customers,” she said. “That was the most satisfying part of the business. They needed help and I could give it to them.”

At the height of its business, Coffrin’s expanded to Edina in 1980, opening a second store that was managed by Aloha’s son Tom. That store closed after a decade in business, and Tom returned to Memphis to manage the store as Aloha considered retirement following the death of Rex Coffrin in 1987.

Tom Coffrin managed the Memphis store until 2008 when he became ill and ultimately passed away in February 2009.

Aloha returned to the business briefly following Tom’s death in 2009, but ultimately decided to close the doors for good on December 12, 2009.

“It was very hard to give it up, something I had done for so long, but it was just something I had to do,” said Aloha.

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