The history of Whit Miller’s Shoe Store & Repair, goes back to almost 100 years. It was located in Mooresville, NC for 90+ years. Current owner, David Miller and wife Audrey decided to move closer to their two grown daughters and three grandchildren in Cleveland, NC. where they wanted to slow down a bit. The new location is only a 15-minute drive from Mooresville.
Entrepreneur Boyd Whitlow opened Whit Miller’s in 1927 on Church Street behind the former Belk department store, Audrey said. It’s unclear when the shop moved to its current Main Street location, David said.
Whitlow’s son-in-law and David’s uncle, Frank Miller, eventually purchased the shop and brought in David’s father, Eugene T. “Peanut” Miller, who later called in David to help run the store in 1982.
It’s time to slow down.” Several years ago, David’s feet were crushed in an accident on Interstate 85 when the vehicle he was driving crashed into a highway pylon, Audrey said.
“They said I had two to three good years left, and that was over seven years ago,” said David.
But the hours are long and David is on his feet quite a bit.
He worked six days a week, whether it was in the Main Street shop; in his mobile shoe unit, a 40-foot trailer that travels to local plants; or at his home leather shop, Audrey said. From their previous Main Street store, the couple sold steel-toe shoes, cowboy boots, holsters and belts. David also repairs shoes, luggage, saddles and tack.
Upon this semi-retirement, the couple plans on traveling – David loves Amish country – and to North Myrtle Beach, Audrey said.
“We just really intend spending a lot more time with our family,” said Audrey.
They will miss the shop’s customers, however, who have come back time after time for quality work.
“His dad always said, ‘You can either make a quick dollar or a slow quarter, but you’re going to have more return customers on a slow quarter than a quick dollar,’ and that’s the truth,” said Audrey.
One of those return customers was Dale Earnhardt, who returned to the shop to have his boots repaired and chat with David. They would tease each other about deer hunting and make plans to ride horses, David said.
“Out of all the years, we never started an engine,” said David.
The shop’s customers are happy the family is retiring but sad to see another historic business leaving downtown Mooresville, said Audrey.
Mooresville resident Stacee Guin came in to Whit Miller’s this month to have a pair of black ankle boots repaired. She wailed when she heard the Millers were closing down shop and moving to Cleveland.
“Do you know how long I’ve been coming here?” Guin asked. “I’ve been coming here at least 10 years. Instead of me buying new shoes, I come here.”
When asked how much money the Millers have saved her by repairing her shoes, Guin paused to think.
“I don’t buy cheap shoes,” she said. “Hundreds of dollars. Maybe even thousands.”