Log Cabin Shoes gets new owner
In a move long in the making, Mark and Dianne Gimbel, owners of the Smiling Cow and Gimbel’s Country Store in Boothay Harbor, have turned over their other retail outlet, the Log Cabin Shoes, to their son, Eric.
Eric, who graduated from Boothbay Region High School in 2004, had been managing the store since 2002. Last year, his parents decided it was high time to transfer ownership to him, so the three got together and worked out an agreement.
Eric is the third generation of Gimbels to own the store. Jack Gimbel, Mark’s father and Eric’s grandfather, built it in 1972 after buying the property from Don Leavitt, an excavator. At the time, it was merely a stone ledge.
Jack Gimbel had bought the Smiling Cow in 1967 and opened Gimbel’s Country Store in 1971. The Gimbels lived in Kent, Ohio back then, and came to East Boothbay, where they owned a summer home, for the summers.
The shoe store was originally called the Indian Trading Post. “My father fashioned it after a trading post at Hogback Mountain in Marlboro, Vermont,” Mark said. “He loved that place.” The Indian Trading Post sold Indian moccasins and toys.
When Mark started running the store in 1977 after graduating from high school, he told his father it needed some changes. “It just wasn’t cutting it.” They got rid of the toys, but kept the moccasins, and Mark added other footwear, like Nike running shoes and Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes. Other popular brands of footwear at the store are: Merrell, Olukai, Teva, New Balance, Keds, Earth Origins, Birkenstock and Costa.
At the back of the store, Jack had a display of Indian artifacts. Mark said he convinced him to donate that collection to the Maine State Museum in Augusta.
Mark and Dianne Gimbel still own the building that houses the shoe store, and Eric pays rent. “But everything to do with that business is his,” Mark said. “And because my dad started it in ‘72, I became involved in ‘77, and now Eric has taken over in 2018, it’s a third generation business.”
According to Mark, that’s unusual. “Most family retail businesses only make it through two generations.”
A grand reopening is being planned.
Eric also recently purchased a house on Townsend Avenue. He said it’s been a busy summer so far, between running the shoe store and going home to work on that. But he’s happy. His girlfriend Robin Cox is the men’s apparel buyer at the Kittery Trading Post during the week, but comes to Boothbay Harbor for three-day weekends.
Log Cabin Shoes is located at 39 Commercial St. Call 633-4660.