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Keep ME Open: 106 years as 'Maine's Family Shoe Store'

Lamey Wellehan Shoes has seen just about every hardship imaginable, and it will get through COVID-19, too.

AUBURN, Maine — Lamey Wellehan Shoes has been around since 1914,so the company has been through just about everything: the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and World War II. 

"Our anniversary was March 17. 106 years old," company president Don Stowell said. "And two days later we were shut down."

Stowell said the hardest part was having to furlough nearly all of the company's employees across six stores in the state.

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"Very tough, you know telling people that we can't keep going, doing business, and support them and their families," he said. "It was nothing I was prepared for. They weren't either."

But Stowell said the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is not going to bring the longstanding Maine company down.

Just in the last week two of the company's six stores have been able to reopen, in Augusta and Topsham. 

Credit: NCM

That means there are big changes though, including a limit to five people in the store at a time, sanitation stations, marks on the floor for social distancing, and masks. 

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For the most part customers have been really understanding, according to Stowell, and after just about five days the sales have surpassed expectations. 

"Their sales are matching last year at this time. Which is a pleasant surprise," Stowell said. 

Lamey Wellehan's other four stores are still closed to regular customers. That means they can only make appointments to get fitted and purchase the right pair of shoes. 

Those appointments can be made online. The company has also been relying more heavily on its website for orders as well. 

After 106 years as 'Maine's Family Shoe Store' they are determined to make it through.

"We've gone through world wars and depressions and all those things and somehow we figured out a way," he said. "And we'll do it again."

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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