We would love to hear from you
J.D. suggested that Keith Herring (me), a young college student working for him, would be a great choice. R.M. was understandability skeptical about turning over the reins to a “snot-nossed” 19 year old (my description). J.D. didn’t waver and asked R.M. to stop by his shop and watch how Keith interacted with the customers. This was during the Christmas season of 1971. I remember Mr. R.M. stopping by that day but I had no idea why he was there. Long story short, I must have made a good impression because it wasn’t but a couple of days later that J.D. asked me if I would interested in running a shoe store.
I was getting ready to start my 4th semester at Francis Marion College where, as I now tell my kids, I was majoring in “spades”. Of course even with a doctorate in “spades” chances of landing a job would be tough, so I jumped at the opportunity. I finished that semester while J.D. and R.M. finalized the details of the store. That summer I spent working back and forth between the men’s shop and construction of the shoe store. I’ll never forget the day that R.M. and myself pulled the concrete floor using a
2 X 4. I didn’t think we would ever get done.
Fast forward a couple of years. At this time, I bought into Shoe Fair as a full partner. J.D. and R.M. always looked out for me while letting me make my own mistakes to learn from. Both of my original partners have passed and the sole ownership of Shoe Fair, Mullins is now the “snot-nossed kid’s” thanks to two great partners.
History of Shoe Fair Mullins, SC
History of Shoe Fair Whiteville, NC
Shoe Fair had it’s start in Mullins, SC. Keith Herring the owner/manager is married to the former Marsha Boyette. Why is this important?? Let me explain.
Keith opened Shoe Fair in Mullins in August of 1972. One of his part-time workers was a petit high school young lady named Marsha. As fate would have it, she graduated high school in May and married Keith in August 1973. Marsha enrolled at Francis Marion University and graduated in May 1977 all the while working part-time at Shoe Fair. Keith and Marsha now have 3 children.
In early 1986 Keith’s mother-in-law, Billie Lou Boyette, called and asked him if he would like to go into partnership and open a second shoe store. Now under normal circumstances, going into business with family would be bad enough but with your MOTHER-IN-LAW!!!!!!!!
Billie Lou’s and my relationship is not typical. We have never had a cross word and she has always treated me like one of her sons and I treat her like my mother. I was proud that she would ask me to be HER partner.
She had the idea of finding a place at the beach where we could open a store. Having been in business for about 13 years at this time I knew we didn’t want to be “a little fish in a big pond” and this was long before all the outlet stores opened. For some reason, I call it Devine guidance, I had always thought that Whiteville would be a good business town. So one day Billie Lou, husband Tom, Marsha and myself rode up to Whiteville just to look around. Time we rode into town we came upon the new Hills shopping center, South Whiteville Village. We had found our home just that quick. First in a leased unit and then building our own building on the out parcel.
We opened in Whiteville in October 1986. Now my brother-in-law, Kendall Boyette, is the manager and handles the day to day operation. This is truly a family owned and operated “Family” shoe store.
Shoe Fair opened it’s doors on Thursday, August 15, 1972, but how we got to this point is a story within it’s self.
Friends J.D. Tucker of Tucker’s Men Shop and R.M. Fowler of Mullins Department Store began discussing the possibility of opening a shoe store somewhere between Mullins and Marion, SC. R.M. had a partner in Elizabethtown, NC that had opened a shoe store there and he thought the concept would work in Mullins. The biggest problem would be to find someone who they could trust and depend on to run the store as each of them had their own business to look after.