Reineberg's to close doors after 141 years of shoe sales, repairs
Walk a mile in Bob Reineberg's shoes, and experience a career spanning five decades and a family history dating back to 1877.
Reineberg is the fourth generation in his family to own and run Reineberg's Shoes and Shoe Repair, a business started by his great-grandfather Ed Reineberg.
He also will be the last.
Reineberg announced earlier this week the store located at 1031 Haines Road will be closing as inventory runs out, with a sale that began Wednesday, Oct. 10.
While he's sure he'll be feeling "all kinds of feelings" as the final days approach in December, right now Reineberg doesn't have time for nostalgia.
"It's one of these things where I know we're doing it, but I'm so occupied with what we have to do with the closing and knowing tomorrow is going to be crazy, the whole week is going to be crazy, I just hope I get through it without falling over or something," Reineberg said Tuesday.
He predicted correctly.
There was a 45-minute wait during the opening day of the closing sale, despite eight attendants working and fast service, customers said.
Training for the family business: Reineberg is no stranger to the hustle and bustle of the store he grew up in.
When he was in elementary school, Reineberg said he would walk two blocks from his school to the downtown location.
The family store was originally located at 7½ S. George St., then moved into its own building at 19 S. George St. in the 1920s. The city store closed in 1994 when Reineberg's late brother, Jim Reineberg, retired. The Haines Acres Shopping Center location opened in 1974.
Reineberg recalls spending a couple of hours after school at the store as a kid. There wasn't a school bus, so he'd hang around the store before taking a city bus home, he said.
As he got older, he took on more store responsibility. In high school, he worked at the store after school, on weekends and over the summer, he said.
Before committing to taking on the family business, while at Lehigh University, he toyed with going down a different path — engineering.
"I thought I was interested in that, but I liked working with people better," Reineberg said, noting his swift switch to a business and marketing major.
He also was close with his father, which made going into business together easy, he said.
"We discussed a lot of things about business and thought a lot alike," Reineberg said.
Reineberg's wife, Bonnie, helps him run the store. She does a lot of "behind-the-scenes" work, he said.
They have a son and daughter who have moved away from Pennsylvania.
Their daughter lives in Colorado and wasn't interested in running the store, Reineberg said.
Their son talked about taking on the business, but he's living with his family in Virginia and has a government job that gives more leeway for time off than running the business would, Reineberg said.
"A lot of people aspire to have their own business, and that's great, but you have to pretty much dedicate yourself to that business to keep it running," Reineberg said. "You're the first one there, usually, and the last one to leave. On the weekend, if you're closed, you're thinking about it. At night, when you're laying in bed, you're thinking about it."
The customers: As he prepares to retire, it's the people he's worked for — and with — that Reineberg says he will miss most.
The feeling is mutual.
"I hate to see them go," Carol Mayson, a Dover resident, said.
The personalized care customers get at Reineberg's is not easy to find, especially in 2018, Mayson said.
At Reineberg's Shoes, customers are still measured and fitted for their shoes — a craft that has long been lost in many stores.
"They take you under their wing," Mayson said. "I don't know where we'll go now. It's such a loss to the whole community."
Not only do customers value the care at Reineberg's, they also appreciate the high-quality products.
Dean Jerome, who lives up the street from the store, said he hadn't been to Reineberg's in 20 years.
The pair of shoes he bought at the time had lasted him two decades, he said.
Although customers will miss the store, Reineberg said most have been understanding and are happy to see the Reinebergs retire.
With their newfound free time, Reineberg said he and his wife want to travel in their camper with their dogs.
Even after years of dedicating himself to work, Reineberg said he'll likely pick up a part-time job or do volunteer work.
"I'm just not one that can sit still," Reineberg said. "I've got to be doing something."