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Saying goodbye to an icon: Graham’s Shoes in Carleton Place to close its doors after 65 years

Photo by Karen Ferguson, provided by Graham’s Shoes

For decades, the green “Graham’s Shoes” sign has been a comforting sight on Bridge St. in Carleton Place, a beloved spot for locals seeking stylish footwear and friendly service.

As the store prepares to close its doors on Saturday, April 13, owner Doug Hawkins finds himself navigating a mix of emotions, marking the end of an era for this cherished establishment.

Hawkins took over the store from his parents in 1984. His parents before him took it over from the store’s namesake in 1971; before that, Jim Graham had run the shoe shop since 1958. With over 65 years of history, the store holds a special place in the hearts of locals. The decision to retire was not made lightly. Hawkins acknowledges the sadness of closing a longstanding business, but looks forward to the next phase of his life.

“It’s sad to close; there’s no other shoe stores left in town,” Hawkins reflects, nostalgic for the loyal customers he’ll miss.

The closure of Graham’s Shoes represents more than just the end of a business; it reflects broader shifts in retail and the evolving landscape of small-town commerce. While the store may soon be a memory, its impact on the local community will endure for years to come.

The building, which was put up for sale, quickly found a buyer just weeks after being put on the market. A current local business owner, who asked not to be named due to still working out logistics with his current lease, has purchased the space and plans to continue using the storefront for retail.

The business owner said he “loves the ambiance of Bridge St. and the community of Carleton Place” and is excited to renovate the store so it can be used by the community for decades; he said Lanarkist would be the first to know more details when they can be published.

As Graham’s Shoes prepares to close, customers have the opportunity to stop in to the store at 139 Bridge St. to purchase remaining inventory at discounted prices and wish Hawkins well on his retirement until closing day on April 13. Until then, all shoes will be $49.98 or less.

“The less there is left, the easier it will be for me to move,” Hawkins jokes.

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