Another piece of "Old Port Washington" will disappear sometime this month when Bay Bootery closes its doors for the last time. The classic mom-and-pop operation, the little freestanding shoe store on Shore Road has become a local landmark by catering to Port's feet since the mid-1960's. Owners Emil and Betty Schaefer are retiring to spend more time with their family and three grandchildren.
Through the years, a visit to Bay Bootery was a low-tech experience in old-fashioned shopping. From the cluttered aisles to the shoe boxes stacked rafter-high to the homespun sales style of its proprietors, the Bootery was a living Norman Rockwell painting.
The Schaefers are old-time Port Washington, too. A WWII D-day Invasion and Korean War veteran, Emil worked for the NYC Highway Department for 35 years and as security at the Port Library for 15 years. Betty worked at the old Nassau Stores 5 & 10 on Main Street before they built the Bootery in 1966.
Both reflected on the store's closing with an old friend.
"Thirty-six years is a long time here," said Emil in his usual no-nonsense fashion. "Time to get out."
"I've been accustomed to running the store for a long time," said Betty. "I'll miss it, but I'll get used to it."
Emil summed-up their unpretentious customer service policy: "People are nice as a rule. Some you can satisfy, others you can't."