Emerhoff's Footwear

From the exterior front to the rear of the sales room, Emerhoff's Footwear, 219 Main, has been completely remodeled and redecorated. The modern front of grooved weldwood and a new all-glass door attract passersby who find the interior of the store in beautifully blending shades that harmonize with the new carpeting and recently installed furniture and light fixtures.  A new cabinet at the front of the interior has the same background as the display windows which have been improved by doubling the amount of lighting for nights and dark days.

Former Emerhoff's Footwear employee Don Gustofson related a few tidbits of the story behind the store's founder.

Emerhoff Peterson began selling shoes late in 1940 on Main Street in Ames.   At that time the entire year's inventory would be selected and ordered at shoe shows in large cities such as Chicago and St. Louis.  Upon returning home from the 1941 show, Emerhoff felt he may have gotten carried away and ordered too many shoes.  However, because the start of World War II caused shoes to be suddenly in short supply, the excessive order allowed Emerhoff to supply other shoe stores with needed stock.  He had really lucked out.  What could have been a costly mistake actually ended up firmly establishing Mr. Peterson in the shoe business.

Emerhoff Peterson had a flair for fashion, and specialized in quality women's shoes, even in the tough sizes.  The store stocked sizes from 5 to 10, back when size 10 was a large shoe.  Women of Norwegian heritage, especially, had long narrow feet and depended on Emerhoff's to stock the sizes they needed, and many came from a distance to get fitted.  Often, Emerhoff would buy a few pair of extra-flashy shoes, perhaps with stiletto heels.  These are for window dressing, to get women in the door, he would say.

Don says he worked his way through college as an Emerhoff's salesman.  I earned 50 cents an hour plus 2 or 3 percent of what I sold.  I still remember some women's shoe sizes; Mrs. Bob Parks was a 6AA.  Emerhoff's shoes were a bit on the expensive side, but were the best quality and on the leading edge of fashion.


In August of 1956, Emerhoff's Footwear moved to a new location at 215 Main Street and added a men's department.  The grand opening was featured in a Tribune supplement full of store photos as well as advertisements for a variety of shoe brands.  In 1974, the store expanded into the adjacent storefront at 217 Main.  Emerhoff's Footwear has always been a family store, eventually operated by Emerhoff's son, Wayne, and now by his grandson, Mark Peterson. 


Ames Daily Tribune, August 16, 1956

Tomorrow marks the official opening of the new, larger and even more beautiful Emerhoff’s footwear at 215 Main, Ames.  Proprietor of this establishment is Emerhoff Peterson, who has been selling shoes in Ames for over 33 years.  Mr. Peterson, who has had his own store now for 16 years, has been able, through the growing number of customers who have discovered the satisfaction obtained from shopping at Emerhoff’s, to make this move into a larger store.  The addition of a men’s department now makes Emerhoff’s a store for the entire family’s shoe needs.

This expansion reflects the confidence Emerhoff’s patrons have developed.  Now the store has, in addition to the new men’s lines, larger stocks of women’s shoes and expanded supply of shoes for children.  The new names in the men’s department are Florsheim and Winthrop.  Winthrop Juniors are also carried for those “growing boys.”  Lazy Bones were added to the Pro-Tek-Tiv and Jumping-Jacks that already were available.

Among the brands of shoes carried for women are Red Cross Cobbies, Florsheim, Paradise, Carmelletes, Clinic, Josef DiCarlo, Red Cross, Penaljo, Joyce, Tweedies, Oldmaine Trotters, Paradise Kittens, Trampeze, Cobblers and Debs.  Oomphies and Daniel Green slippers complete their stock for women.

Besides Mr. Peterson, a staff of trained men are employed to insure the best in style, quality, fit and value in their shoe purchase.  Wayne Peterson manages the store for his father.  He is assisted in selling shoes by John Allen and Don Gustofson.  During the School term, additional help is hired to insure the customer immediate service.


During Emerhoff’s grand opening tomorrow, Friday and Saturday, the public is invited to inspect their new store.  Registration slips will be available for those who wish to enter their names for the free merchandise prizes to be given away.

First prize is a $20.00 certificate.  Second prize is a $15.00 certificate and two certificates worth $10.00 each will be awarded for the final two gifts.  Of course one need not be present to win.  The winners will be notified by Emerhoff’s Monday, Aug. 20.

Emerhoff’s has been known as THE women’s shoe store in this area for 15 years.  Their moving to a different location in Ames only makes it possible for that reputation to increase, due to the greater stocks made possible by more space.  The same quality lines are carried and a completely new selection of fall shoe styles now await your selection.  The women’s department is located in the central area of the store and its manager is Wayne Peterson.

The big news about the New Emerhoff’s other than the spacious new location, is the addition of a men’s department.  Available to the men of this shopping area are two of the finest shoes available, Florsheim and Winthrop.  These two brands offer a complete price range for men’s shoe customers.  Winthrop Juniors are also carried to bring style to that junior high school age.  You’ll see the men’s department just to the left as you enter the store.  John Allen is the department manager.

A complete assortment of sizes are available so that even the “hard to fit” man can be given a nice choice of styles, colors and prices.  The price range will be between $9.95 and $27.95.  Winthrop, Jrs., for Boys will bring style for that fast-growing age group.

John Allen, an Emerhoff employee for six years, is the manager of the new men’s department.  John, a native of Ames, is married and has three boys.  When shopping for your next pair of shoes, be sure and check the great assortment in John’s department.  You’ll find the shoe that you are looking for.

While in their old store, Emerhoff’s built an unexcelled reputation for fitting children’s shoes.  This reputation can now become even greater with the acquisition of a third line of Children’s shoes, “Lazy Bones,” to go with their old stand-bys of Pro-Tek-Tiv and Baby Jumping Jacks brands.  Now a wider variety of patterns and sizes will be available.  Lazy Bones will retail from $5.50 to $7.50; Pro-Tek-Tiv from $5.95 to $8.95 and Baby Jumping Jacks at $4.50.

Size records are kept on all children’s shoes and a foot check-up reminder is sent at the proper time to have the shoes checked for proper fit.

Don Gustofson, an Emerhoff employee for four years, will manage this department.  Don’s home was in Boone and he is a recent graduate of Iowa State.  He’s married and has a small daughter.

Children’s requirements for expert fitting and close supervision of their foot needs are guaranteed when you rely on Emerhoff’s.


Ames Daily Tribune, August 15, 1956

If you want your child to stand at the head of his class better make sure that he stands in well-fitting leather shoes.  Shoes are all-important to growing bodies but children don’t really know when their feet hurt – any more than they know when they’re suffering from eyestrain.

That puts it up to the parents, who will do well to follow these rules for the shoes he wears back to school and throughout the school year:

  1. Patronize a reputable shoe retailer who wants the child as a steady customer.
  2. Check the construction of the shoes you buy.  Foot doctors recommend a shoe with leather soles as well as leather uppers.  Leather, being firm yet resilient, provides support with flexibility.  It also allows air to circulate freely inside the shoe through its tiny invisible pores.  Run your hand inside the shoe and make sure the insole feels smooth all the way to the toe.
  3. Check frequently to see that shoes still fit.  There is no set rule, of course, but on the average, children need new shoes every two months up to the age of 10; after that every two or three months.  See that there is still plenty of room for all the toes both in length and width.
  4. Don’t let your son wear sneakers except for brief periods on grassy play areas or gym floors.  On the concrete playgrounds of city schools, or on the unyielding streets and sidewalks, young feet need the solid foundation that sturdy leather shoes provide.

Once you’ve checked the construction and fit, you can give your youngsters their head when it comes to style.  For both girls and boys, you’ll find all the new leather textures – crushed leather, grained leather, matte leather, and aniline-dyed leather, to name but a few – in styles as new as today’s lesson.

The most popular numbers in the casual line for both sexes are a slip-on shoe or a low-cut oxford with a moc toe.  They are longer and slimmer than before and have a neatly-tailored leather sole.  For girls, they will also boast many decorative details such as narrow buckled straps around the back, crossed-over straps at the instep and elaborate perforations.  Leading colors besides the perennial black, brown and wine will include the pale beige to bright tan for both girls and boys, while girls will also wear more off-beat shades such as moonstone, white sand, and avocado.

Many young men will favor three- to five-eyelet bluchers.  Monk straps are popular for dress-up.  Girls, on the other hand will vary the traditional shell pump and Mary Jane with high-fashion numbers including floral-printed leathers and those of vivid oriental oranges and blues with gold kid underlays and appliqués.