Residents share stories as 1950s Essex County Store nears final day

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LIVINGSTON, NJ – After Patch published an article earlier this month about the upcoming closure of Jay’s Shoe Box – a large children’s shoe store in Livingston that has served area families since 1954 – residents began to share stories of seemingly simpler times.

Owner Ted Wickner said the store, which his father Jay opened when he was 19, will close largely due to staffing issues and changing hours – but he is grateful for the memories. READ MORE: Touched their soles: Jay’s shoebox will close on July 1.

“I used to come and help my dad when I was really little,” Ted said. “When I was 5, 6, I was cleaning mirrors… We went from expensive Italian shoes for little kids to sneakers. Things come and go – Uggs, Crocs, you go with the flow.”

“Thank you, Ted,” one woman wrote on Livingston Patch Facebook page, “…thank you for your generosity in giving many of my Newark students new sneakers to wear. You never said no.”

“Always had my shoes there,” said a woman on the Springfield Facebook Crest page. “I remember it was like an adventure when we went to Jay’s and then Roslyn’s for lunch! The childhood is gone, but the memories are not. I miss those days.”

Her comment prompted a flurry of other comments on other past shops, with one woman noting: “Rosyln had the best egg salad on the planet.”

“End of an era and a legendary local business,” one man wrote, of Jay’s. “Back then (before online retail) finding a size 14 sneaker was nearly impossible and Ted would provide me with a ‘non-public’ Nike catalog and order me a size 14 pair and have them delivered directly to the store!! Great customer service!!”

Several people said they brought young parents to the store even when they didn’t live in the area:

“Truly the end of an era! Generations have shopped at Jay’s. My mother took me and my sister, I took my daughter and my son, and I took my granddaughters, from Long Island, and my grandsons from Randolph! No one had shoes and sneakers like Chez Jay! Ted, we’ll miss you!”

A member of staff at the store confirmed on Wednesday that the last day was Thursday June 30, although Ted said they could reopen for some sort of sale in August.

At 64, Ted said he is not retiring from business as he will remain involved in his family’s real estate company.

“I want to thank them for all these years,” he said, of his clients. “We appreciate them. They all come up and say, ‘It’s sad.’ I appreciate all of their well wishes. It’s a lesson in humility.”

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