Haddad to keep shoe shop open

Louie Haddad is keeping a longtime downtown Parkersburg business open.

Haddad has taken over Haddad’s Shoe Service, 225 Sixth St. along the railroad trestle, after the death of his brother Fred on Nov. 9. Fred Haddad had owned and operated the shoe repair shop since about 2008, taking over from his father, Freddie, who purchased the business in 1977 from the Meintel family.

Freddie Haddad, who was born in Lebanon, where he made shoes, began working at the Sixth Street shoe repair shop in 1960, when it was Gus Meintel Economy Shoe Repair Shop, said Louie.

Louie believes a shoe repair shop has been at 225 Sixth St. since at least 1903. “That’s as far back as we can confirm,” he said.

“I grew up in this shop,” Louie told me this week, starting to work in the summers and after school when he was 12 years old. “I would hate to see it close. As long as I can pay the bills I want to keep it going,” he said.

Louie also owns Haddad’s Leather, selling mostly motorcyclists’ apparel, two doors down from the shoe repair shop.

“It’s not about the money,” Louie said of the reason for keeping the shop open. “I want to keep it open for the community; we have a good clientele.”

People make a special trip downtown to Haddad’s to get their shoes repaired, Louie said. As I visit with Louie, a steady stream of customers enters the shop to get boots and shoes resoled, an inquiry is made about repairing a leather belt and a leather jacket lies on the counter waiting for its zipper to be repaired.

When shoes became disposable, the shoe repair business suffered, Louie said. “We used to fix tennis shoes, when they were made to last. Not now,” he said.

Haddad’s also repairs purses, luggage, hunting boots, majorette boots, orthopedic shoes and sandals.

Shoe repair is a “dying art,” Louie said, with young people not entering the trade.

“I think dad is glad I am keeping the shop open,” Louie said.

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Kim Couch knows how generous this community is. Proceeds of $25,000 from the Sept. 5 “Pink by Poolside” fundraiser in Vienna along with private donations are providing free mammograms to underinsured and uninsured women in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The foundation has provided 106 free mammograms since early October and money for another 200 mammograms has been received, said Couch, executive director of the foundation. Couch realized the need to raise money for mammograms when a breast cancer grant was discontinued. Women 40-49 years old can apply for the program by contacting Couch at the Camden Clark Foundation, 304-424-2200. For women over 50, Couch said she will try to find another program offering free breast cancer screenings. Dr. Abdi and Manijeh Ghodsi have agreed to host a second “Pink by Poolside” at their home next September, Couch said.

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Proceeds from the Dec. 6 Gospel Music Reunion Choir’s Christmas concert will help “Praise FM” radio move its studio to Fellowship Baptist Church, 3300 Rosemar Road in Vienna. The concert at South Parkersburg Baptist Church, 1655 Blizzard Drive, begins at 7 p.m. and features the 40-member choir, soloists and pianists Susie Spencer, Chris Truman and Marvin Arnold presenting Christmas music. Praise FM first went on the air in February 2002 on 46th Street in Vienna and money is being raised to install two towers and add equipment for a new studio at Fellowship Baptist Church, said Pastor Jon Lands. The 24-hour, seven days-a-week Southern gospel music radio station, a ministry of Fellowship Baptist, hopes to move into the new studio early next spring, Lands said.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com