When I was a boy in my high school years, my dad would come home in the evening and pour himself a vodka on the rocks and say, "Son, don’t go into the shoe business. It’s a hard business. Disloyal sales reps, meshugenah customers with crazy chronic foot problems and an endless carousel of cooky salespeople. Find another line of work." I nodded and made a mental note to heed his advice. But, after 15 years of running away from the shoe business, fate (or was it destiny) had other plans. With a pretty new wife and a little one on the way, I came back. Shoes kind of get in your blood and coagulate there: their necessity and functionality, their luxury and style, the feel and smell of the leather. Everybody’s got to wear them. Once you start to love them it’s hard to leave them. Thirty-five years later and I’m still here.  

I asked my dad once when a Florsheim store around the corner was going out of business and a Famous Footwear just down the street was coming in, "Dad, how do we survive while all these other stores come and go?" He said, "Son, those other stores are just run by clerks who don’t really care. You’ve got to have someone there who is going to be there day in and day out year after year who really cares about the success of the store." It kind of made sense to me and the years have borne him out. We're the only ones left standing!

The Early Years


             Williams shoes had just one storefront. It was about 20 ft wide and 50 ft deep and we carried only one brand, Red Cross Shoes. These were shoes tailored to the more "mature woman" who needed comfort but with a modicum of style. In those days it would not be uncommon to see three more "mature women" in the store at the same time: one in a wheelchair, one with a walker and the last sporting a quadripod cane. It was enough to make a young man weep.

Son, don't go into the shoe business.
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Vodka on the Rocks
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But, business was good and when the Nancy Keith candy store next door went out, Williams Shoes expanded and added another brand owned by US Shoe called Selby shoes. These were also more mature shoes but a little more stylish and higher price. Business continued to thrive until 1990 when the optical shop just adjacent to the West went out and Williams Red Cross and Selby Shoes once again expanded adding several other brands of shoes and men's shoes. The walking for health craze had just taken off so we called our new store 'The Walking Spirit'.

"It was enough to make a young man weep!"
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The Next Generation

   Right around the time of The Walking Spirit expansion, the founder H. David Lembeck reluctantly passed the reins to his son Michael, whose reign was about to take the old Evanston establishment into new and uncharted waters. Once in charge of the purse strings, Michael went a little bit crazy buying whatever struck his fancy. If it was fun and funky, he bought it. If it was classic and beautiful, he bought it. If it was different and unique, he bought it. Slowly but surely, Evanston the surrounding communities began to dig it. 

They began to come and see what was new and fun and different and happening. Then we added some decorative critters to the ambiance: some frogs, crocodiles, dinosaurs, a little frisbee golf and the Exciting Adventures of Nabob. And that is how we came to what we are today , the finest and funnest and best dogone shoe store from Chicago to Shoeboygan. The store "Where all your dreams come shoe!" and that's how we made it to 64 years and counting.

Jean-Luc Picard
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Michael Lembeck

A.k.a Mike, Mr. Williams, Captain Williams, Mr. Shoe Guy, the 800 lb. gorilla, the Lord of the Shoes. Mike has been here on and off since his high school days when he did stock work back in the late 1960s. He’s been running the show since he took over from the previous Mr. Williams (Dad) in 1990. He loves shoes and Evanston and if you want to know more about him read about him in the ‘About Us’ tab on this web site.​

Megan McGlauchlen

Megan is a gem. Along with the Minnesotan Goose, Megan has migrated south to warm and sunny Evanston from the frigid tundra of Invergrove Heights, Minnesota. Megan is a recent Northwestern grad in Religious Studies with Tibetan Buddhism as her major. Not only is Megan a natural shoe sales-person who just has that knack for finding the right shoe for all who fall into her kindly care, but she has raised the bar for snappy dressing. One day she may be bedecked as an urban lumberjackess, the next she may be sporting her blue blazer creating a quasi-professional shoe gestalt. This gem: priceless!

Rich Iverson

 For the past 28 years, Rich has been our Williams Shoes Store manager. Twenty-eight years! A lesser man would be a broken useless husk by now, but not Rich. He’s grizzled, he’s scarred, but unbowed. He rules his domain with justice, magnanimity, and equanimity. Williams Shoes would not be the same without him. Long live Rich our Store manager.

Fae Rose Kobernick

Fae comes to us new this summer. Fae is an ETHS graduate from the class of 2016 and is now a junior at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI where she is studying “performance theater.” Fae is multi-faceted and talented. She loves fine handwork e.g. sewing, needle felting and embroidery. Although Fae is new on the scene, she has taken to selling shoes like a duck to water. She can quack with the best of them, but when it comes to selling shoes Fae ain’t no “Quack.”

Heather Battle

Heather is now in her 5th year here at Williams Shoes. She is a native Evanstonian, a former librarian, former insurance spy, and the mother of an adorable 10 year old. Heather is as upbeat as a beautiful day in May. Her ready laugh, endless patience, and ever increasing shoe expertise serve our patrons well. High school and college kids are great, but a grown-up is a real gem!

Maggie Lou

Maggie is a Northwestern sophomore. She has been with us almost a year now. She comes to us from the second greatest city in the world, Chicago, Illinois (Evanston is #1 of course). Adept at decorating, origami, drawing intricate designs, and selling shoes, Maggie is on hiatus in Beijing until September.









710 Church St,

Evanston, IL 60201


Mon-Sat 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Sun 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM


©2018 By CEMarketing

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Williams Shoes

Jean-Luc Picard