In 1976 a partner from Giesche shoes, Paul Garrison, decided to break away and begin his own shoe store. During his search for a location, he came across a quaint town located on the lake shore, 45 minutes north of Chicago. He immediately fell in love with the homey and close-knit town of Lake Forest and decided that this was the perfect place to start his business. However, Garrison was presented with an obstacle. There was already an offer on the table. He approached all of the local banks and finally First Midwest decided to loan him the money. He then was able to override the previous offer made on the store, and a deal was made.
Paul had to sell his home in Downers Grove to afford his new store, forcing him and his family to temporarily move to their cabin in Wisconsin. For a full year he commuted two hours most days to go to work. When the weather was bad or it was busy he slept on a cot in the basement of his new store. After two years of living like this, in 1979 Paul and his young family were finally able to move to Lake Forest.
The success that the Forest Bootery was largely due to Garrison’s business practices. He believed in offering his customers an abundance of products to choose from to ensure that they would never leave empty handed. He worked hard over the years to bring in a selection that satisfied his customer, always trying to have selections that appealed to the entire family.. He always paid the manufacturers timely, boosting his available credit. Eventually, Garrison’s strong work ethic and intelligent tactics lead to the Forest Bootery being a successful and prospering shoe store in Lake Forest. With a keen eye for product and fashion, Paul often traveled with his wife and at times even his children to New York in search for contemporary product for the store. Although throughout the years Paul Garrison had stores with various partners in Highland Park, Flossmore and Evanston, the Lake Forest store has always possessed the most personality, reflecting the Garrison family’s unique sense of style.