Shoe shop flourishing a year after being ousted from Southdale

6:45 AM, Dec 20, 2012   |    comments
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RICHFIELD, Minn. -- As a man who puts his heart in his soles, Bill Roase has come a long way from one year ago.

Forced, financially, out of Southdale Center during the Mall's renovation, Roase feared the third generation shoe repair shop founded by his grandfather Ralph might be at its end.

In truth, it was a new beginning.

"It's just unbelievable," says Roase, looking back at the events of the past 12 months.

Funded partly by donations from customers - and even strangers who followed his plight on Facebook - Ralph's Shoe Service is now re-planted on Penn Avenue in Richfield.

His 26-year employee, Jesse Engelen, is now back on the job too. Roase's parents even come in a couple of days a week to help Roase keep up with repairs.

Roase says he is busier than he was at the mall, while paying less than half the rent in a strip mall in the 6600 block of Penn Avenue. 

For Roase the move to Penn Avenue has also meant freedom. For the first time, he is able to put Christmas decorations on his window, something he says the mall forbid. He's closed on Sundays and Mondays now too, which the mall would not allow.

"He actually had a vacation, he hadn't had a vacation in six years," says Kay Roase, Bill's mother.

Roase says he's been able to lower his repair prices too, "because I don't have to deal with that high overhead I was dealing with at Southdale."

Southdale management has consistently declined to comment about the ouster of the last original tenant of the oldest enclosed shopping mall in the country.

But Roase is more than happy to weigh in the events that lead left him angry and tearful just one year ago. 

"It was the best thing that could have ever happened really. I'm truly blessed by all my customers."

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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