Main Street shoe store shuts down

Weidman's, the shoe and apparel store, closed its doors for good this past Saturday, another small-business victim of Geneseo's struggling Main Street.

According to owner Josh Weidman, the store's failure was due in part to its proximity to cities like Rochester and Buffalo and competition with stores like Wal-Mart and Peebles.

"People can just hop on the 390 and be in Rochester in half an hour," he said.

Open for only one year, the store carried shoe brands like Columbia, Merrell and Saucony. With actual sales far lower than projected, Weidman's offered discounts of up to 70 percent in the final weeks of business.

In addition to competition, the threat of an economic recession made many people more price conscious.

"In five months, people can buy five different pairs of shoes for $10 at places like Wal-Mart instead of one $50 pair of shoes here," said sophomore Esther Son. "I never go to Main Street. When I have to go [shopping], I go to Wal-Mart."

Employee Linsey Morsch noted that the lack of parking on Main Street was a problem for business.

"People have to pay for it, and then they can only stay an hour or two before they have to pay again," she said.

Despite the proximity of the store to campus, most of the patronage came from people who lived in town, according to Weidman.

Although Weidman's was forced to close, there are several programs throughout Livingston and Wyoming counties to promote small business development.

According to the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce Web site, "the Geneseo Small Business Development Center, located on the campus of SUNY Geneseo and [administered by the State University of New York], provides management and technical assistance to start-up and existing small business firms."

Additionally, students of Mary Mohan of the communication department are working with the Alliance for Business Growth of Livingston and Wyoming Counties to develop Live Magazine, a publication designed to inform students about businesses in and around Geneseo.

"Working with the students, I got the idea that many don't know what is in Livingston County," Alliance Director Louise Wadsworth said. "There is a lack of information."

Weidman's also has another location in Dansville, about 15 minutes away from Geneseo.