It’s official: After 29 years in business, Imelda’s Shoes is closing up shop.
The pioneering independent shoe store comprises three adjoining shops on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard: an apparel store, a women’s shoe and accessory store, and a men’s store, Louie’s.
“My decision to close wasn’t easy,” founder and owner Pam Coven tells WW. “I had just opened the apparel store right before the pandemic hit and was excited about this new addition to our mix of product. But the pandemic made things very challenging and I’ve been working harder then ever trying to maintain what I built for almost 29 years.”
Coven adds: “Staffing shortages, burglaries and shoplifting, supply chain issues and staff getting sick with COVID have been the recurring hurdles. While we have had lots of love from our customers both in purchases and verbally, almost three years of this I just reached a point where I started to reevaluate my priorities.”
Starting today, Imelda’s will host closing sales in-store and on its website. The store’s last day of business has yet to be announced, but Coven is making it clear she is ready to move forward. “I’m ready for my next chapter; not exactly sure what that will be, but I’m excited to figure it out,” she says.
Imelda’s has long been a beloved Portland fixture, and has claimed credit for helping introduce Rose City residents to brands like Dansko, Blundstone and Frye.
Coven opened her first Imelda’s store (a 450-square-foot space just off of Hawthorne) in 1994. “When I came to Portland, there weren’t very many independent shoe stores at that time,” she told WW on the eve of the business’s 25th anniversary. “It was all about Nordstrom.”