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Moorhead's Interstate Shoes & Repair needs a buyer to step in as closing deadline nears

Owners Chub and Diane Olson say they're ready to make retirement their sole focus.

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A "Business for Sale" sign invites potential buyers Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, at Interstate Shoes and Repair in north Moorhead.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum
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MOORHEAD — If you’ve always thought you’d like to step into the shoe repair business, Diane and “Chub” Olson may have a good fit for you.

The owners of Interstate Shoes & Repair shop are determined to retire and they’re selling their shop.

The store at 118 9th St. N. will have its last day Oct. 31, on that, the couple have put their foot down. Unless a buyer can be found, they’re ready to step out and enjoy their grandkids.

The front of the store is neat as a pin, new safety shoes and work boots displayed on the walls.

In the workshop behind the showroom, shoes, boots and purses await repair and pickup in well-ordered bins. The shop’s walls are lined with a cobbler's tools of the trade. The shop’s back wall is full of shoe trees.

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Nestled in his workspace, Chub sits in a wheelchair, wearing a red T-shirt and blue jeans, his gray hair tied back into a ponytail, working on a worn boot that he's been trying to give a bit more life. He isn’t disabled; the wheelchair is “just comfortable” and comes in handy for moving easily around his workplace without straining 69-year-old knees by getting up and down, he said.

“It’s time to retire. We’ve come to that age,” Diane said Monday, Oct. 3.
“Some people are retired. I’m just tired,” Chub added. “We had COVID in June. It knocked us down. It knocked me down more than her.”

The pair tied the knot in 1974. They’ve lived in Moorhead for 42 years. And they’ve given their hearts and souls to their career.

Chub’s been selling boots since 1998 at a Red Wing shoe and boot store, where he eventually moved up to manager.

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Diane Olson shows off a framed 2005 story about Interstate Shoes, which appeared in The Forum when she was using a truck to sell shoes and boots throughout North Dakota and Minnesota. Diane and her husband, Chub, said Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, that they plan to close Interstate Shoes and Repair at the end of the month - unless they can find a buyer.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

Diane started Interstate Shoes as the sole proprietor in 2004, buying a truck and hitting the road in North Dakota and Minnesota, selling American-made shoes and boots. She opened the store in 2006, she said, moving to the current location a few years later.

Chub joined her as a co-owner at Interstate Shoes about 2012.

Their longevity in the business has been no small feat.

“It’s hard to believe time has gone by so fast,” Diane said.

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There’s a sign on the front of the building advertising that the business is for sale, but there have been no takers.

One knotty problem: Realtors didn’t seem to be too interested in finding a buyer for the mom and pop shop.

“One (Realtor) said ‘If it’s not over $1 million, we’re not interested,’” Diane said. Another Realtor said that since the store is a specialty retailer, it would be “hard to sell.”

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Chub Olson sits amid his cobbler's tools Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, at Interstate Shoes and Repair. Chub and his wife, Diane, say the Moorhead shop will close by the end of October, unless a buyer steps forward.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

Family members have their own careers and aren’t interested in the shop, the couple said.

There used to be another shoe repair shop maybe 200 feet to the south of them. It’s now an auto sales and repair shop.

The business is listed for sale at $150,000, though the Olsons are willing to entertain offers.

“It’s negotiable. Price is negotiable,” Diane says. “Make an offer. We’re at that point. Any offer will be considered.”

If the shop closes without a buyer, they’ll sell off inventory online, with the aim of closing out the books by the end of the year.

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Putting aside full-time work is “a bittersweet” thing, Diane said. “I can’t picture myself retired. It’s like, is this really happening?”

“It would be nice if someone had come in and taken over,” Chub said.

Chub says he’ll miss the shoe business. And while he spends most of his time in the repair shop, he does like interacting with customers. But … it’s time to walk away.

“We have grandkids, and I want to spend more time with them,” he said.

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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