American Shoe celebrates more than a century in business.

The shoes we wear carry us throughout our daily lives similarly to how our local businesses carry our economy and community. Located in downtown Jefferson City, a renowned shoe store is famed for being 104 years in business, servicing quality footwear and helping to keep the community going.

American Shoe originally opened in 1919, and Sara Quinn and her sister Ann Slay are just two of several family members behind its long-standing success. With a combined four generations in the footwear business, the family is dedicated to carrying on the tradition of quality and successful service. The family also opened a Columbia location in 1976 Part of what has made them so successful, and has made their family business so rewarding, is that. throughout their generations in the game, they’ve been able to watch as fashionable shoes and the latest trends in footwear have changed throughout the decades. However, the process of finding fashionable footwear has certainly changed. For many years, company representatives would travel to American Shoe to show off their latest designs. These days, Sara and Ann’s children, Sarah Norden and Luke Quinn, are buying new shoes virtually while also attending markets in major cities throughout the year.

Ann Slay and Sara Quinn from American Shoe in downtown Jefferson City, Missouri
American Shoe in downtown Jefferson City, Missouri

“We are incredibly proud of our attention to customer service and our family atmosphere.”

Ann Slay

“I would say 70 percent of our shoes used to come to us through representatives, and we would go to market just to see what was new and to pick up new brands,” Ann says. “Then, it changed to the representatives not being able to service everyone, and COVID hit, so it all switched to online.”

And although Ann and Sara no longer have to travel for new trends, they are always communicating with customers on what styles they’re looking to buy.

“We are incredibly proud of our attention to customer service and our family atmosphere,” Ann says. “We have had generations of customers.”

You can still often see the pair welcoming customers from behind the glass counter, surrounded by old family photos including a 1942 team photo that commemorates their city softball championship. Though their shop is old, their footwear styles on display are always current and on top of the game. Customers from near and far are what keep American Shoe going, and the sisters credit their employees with much of their success as well.

American Shoe in downtown Jefferson City, Missouri

“We love our employees,” Sara says. “They are the best.”

Ann and Sara, along with the rest of the American Shoe family, have a lot of plans and hopes for the future. Their biggest goal, though it may not seem too drastic or. inventive, is to keep doing what they’ve been doing for the past 100-plus years — to deliver that trademark customer service and, above all else, continue being a pillar of the community. After all, a good company depends on the good people behind it.

“We love our employees. They are the best.”

Sara Quinn
American Shoe in downtown Jefferson City, Missouri