Clintonville store owners retire
B & H Footwear opened in 1986
After 34 years of owning a shoe store in Clintonville, Howard and Bea Waldschmidt have officially retired.
The store, bearing their initials B & H Footwear, opened its doors at 48 S. Main in Clintonville on April 10, 1986. It was built on a vacant lot after a store at that location had been destroyed by fire.
It wasn’t the Waldschmidt’s first retail venture.
They owned a store in Fond du Lac that opened in 1976. Having become familiar with Clintonville because of a vacation cabin they owned in Pella, the couple saw potential in opening a store here. They were open in Clintonville within a month after selling their store in Fond du Lac.
“It was a hectic time,” recalled Howard.
Howard’s philosophy for achieving success is straight forward.
They have had to compete against rival shoe stores, big box stores, discount chain stores and, more recently, internet sales.
Howard always believes that customer service is the key to success. “You have to be in the store to talk to the customer,” he said
“People still want to try on shoes,” said Howard, “I fitted folks with shoes that couldn’t find proper fitting shoes anywhere else.”
He said if you treated folks right, they would come back.
The Waldschmidt’s time here was not limited to selling shoes.
Howard was also passionate in his service to the Clintonville Ambulance Service and to the Pella Fire Department.
Howard served the Clintonville Ambulance Service for 18 years and as a First Responder for 28 years.
Howard said that one of the highlights during his time here was being honored by the Clintonville Ambulance Service as their EMT of the Year.
He also fondly recalled being honored by the Pella Fire Department as their Fireman of the Year.
Bea was also active in the community.
For years she served on the Clintonville Industrial Development Corporation board of directors as well as the Behling Board. She also was active in her church on Women’s Society and participated in local social activities like the bridge club.
Howard and Bea were also active in local business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Organization.
In 1998, the Waldschmidts welcomed their daughter Sue Aschliman into the business. Sue took over the day-to-day operation of the store and Howard and Bea both continued to help out.
In 2001, B&H Footwear expanded into clothing with the acquisition of The Stables clothing store. They named the new store B&H Fashionwear.
Sue now runs the two stores but Howard said he is just a phone call away for answering questions and offering advice.
One bit of advice he did give Sue was simply, “Keep up the good work; you’re doing a great job.”