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LAMEY WELLEHAN CELEBRATES 100 YEARS AS MAINE’S FAMILY SHOE STORE

Monday, March 17, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: NSRA
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Lamey Wellehan Celebrates 100 years as Maine’s Family Shoe Store

Auburn, Maine, March 17th, 2014:  On St. Patrick’s Day in 1914, Charlie Lamey, the shoe buyer for Peck’s department store and Dan Wellehan, sign painter and window trimmer at Peck’s, opened Lamey Wellehan Shoes at 110 Lisbon Street, in Lewiston, Maine.  Guests and friends came in to shop and congratulate the two men on what would be long lasting relationships, and were given shamrocks to commemorate the grand opening.  The first customer was Bill Tewhey as an infant.  He was given the first pair of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes, and went on to run the local Chamber of Commerce. 

Hard times had forced Dan to leave school in the ninth grade, and he learned the value of hard work in the Dingley-Foss Shoe factory.  He later enjoyed the great work environment at Peck’s department store, where he used to start trimming windows when the store closed at 10 PM on Saturday night.  Dan would trim through the night, walk up to St. Joseph’s Church for Sunday Mass, come back to keep trimming the windows, and finally go up to the furniture department to fall asleep on a bed on Sunday evening.  When he woke up, he would have a fresh collar to button on to his shirt, and, with a tooth brush and a razor, be ready for work when the store opened on Monday morning.

When the US entered World War I, he was quickly signed up for Naval aviation, and served in Norfolk, Virginia.  Norman Rockwell chose him to be painted for a Saturday Evening Post cover as "the typical American Gob” (sailor).  The evening before, however, Dan and seven of his barracks-mates were taken to the infirmary by ambulance.  In the morning, Dan was the only one left alive, as the terrible flu had struck.  So Dan never graced the Saturday Evening Post.

When Charlie Lamey passed away suddenly and tragically, Dan continued to expand the business to other locations, while taking care of his sister Mary, whom Charlie had married.   Dan found the girl of his dreams in Old Orchard Beach, where Kathleen McGuinn had a summer job as a pianist at the Boynton Beach Hotel.  They went on to have two sons, Dan jr., who ran Sebago, the shoe factory that Dan started with a few partners in 1946; while Jim joined the retail business.  Dan was born in 1888, son Dan in 1933, and son Jim in 1938.   By 1945, there were Lamey Wellehan additional locations in Rumford, Portland, and Augusta, Maine, and a store in Lawrence, MA.  A century later, led by Dan’s son Jim, Lamey Wellehan store locations have shifted.  Lamey Wellehan stores are located in six Maine communities; Scarborough, Falmouth, Brunswick, Auburn, Augusta, and Bangor.  Since Jim entered the business, the company has grown its sales eleven times.  Lamey Wellehan has been profitable and grown every year through the Great Recession.

Key to sales growth has been Lamey Wellehan’s commitment to its associates, its communities and the environment.  Since 2010, Lamey Wellehan has collected 10,000 pairs of gently worn shoes annually and distributed them to Maine’s homeless from ‘Washington County to Cumberland County.  The company has worked with local abused women’s shelters, soup kitchens, and youth outreach programs to provide footwear to families in need.  Lamey-Wellehan also awards a Maine high school senior a scholarship each May.  The student chosen will attend a Maine college or university in the fields of ecology and/or economics with the promise to continue to improve these areas in the state of Maine.

Environmentally, the company has achieved great gains.  In 1993, Lamey Wellehan joined The Governor’s Waste Management Program, winning the Governor’s Waste Management Award in 1994.  In 2004, Lamey Wellehan committed to carbon reduction and as of 2012, had reduced its annual carbon output by 37.4% and is committed to a 50% reduction by the year 2020.  This change took place as much of the stores moved to larger facilities allowing the carbon reduction per square foot to be much greater.  Lamey-Wellehan worked strongly with Efficiency Maine to achieve this goal, with increased insulation, fuel sourcing, light sensors, occupancy sensors, skylights, lighting efficiency and temperature setting choices, There are solar panels on the roof of their Auburn store and home office location.  Since the instillation of the solar panels, Lamey Wellehan has hosted an energy fair, Solar Saturday for the past three years as a community outreach to educate guests and friends of how to share in cutting energy costs and protecting our environment as partners.  For its 100th anniversary, Lamey Wellehan is beginning a bag-less initiative.  The company is eliminating bags at point of sale and encouraging customers to bring their own, reusable bags when shopping.  The amount of plastic that winds its way to our oceans is devastating, and 25% of the nations around the world have banned plastic bags. 

Lamey Wellehan focuses intensely upon guest service and proper fitting techniques, and has five board certified pedorthists on staff.  Additionally, they have created and utilize their own fitting curriculum that each sales associate must take and pass as part of their training.  In 2013, Lamey Wellehan created an additional, more focused, advanced training for select associates and store managers called "Retail Pedorthic Specialists.”  Students in the program receive a specially trained textbook and personal mentoring for advanced training on foot health, gait analysis, and the many issues that enable them to provide maximum possible comfort and well-being.

Along with many accolades for their work in their communities and on behalf of the environment, Lamey Wellehan was voted Retailer of the Year by the Boston Shoe Travelers Association in 2010.  Lamey-Wellehan has received awards from the Androscoggin Chamber, the Androscoggin Growth Council, the United Way, the Sierra Club, the Finance Authority of Maine, the Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club, and was twice selected by the Maine Merchant’s Association as retailer of the year.

2014 marks Lamey Wellehan’s centennial year and has a year-long schedule of events to commemorate this milestone.  Guests can enter to win one of multiple prizes to be awarded.  Some include gift cards, iPads, and a grand prize of a vacation getaway to the Colonial Inn in Kennebunkport resort also founded in 1914, and is listed as one of the ten most environmentally responsible resorts in the world.  There will be door prizes during the anniversary celebration weekend.  During the year, the company will give away 100 pairs of shoes to guests who enter to win along with many in store events, vendor days, and special anniversary sales, and every week provide a $100.00 gift certificate to one of their e-club members. 

At their 100th year in business, Lamey Wellehan has six retail locations, an outlet store, and a website found at www.lwshoes.com. 

For additional information, contact Don Stowell,  Jim Wellehan, Chris Stanley, or Erica Dube at Lamey Wellehan Shoes 207-784-6595.

 


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