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Wednesday, November 19, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: NSRA
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TUCSON, AZ (November 18, 2014) - The National Shoe Retailers Association inducted three new members to its Hall of Fame during the Association's annual leadership conference held November 6-7, 2014 in Hollywood, Florida: retailer-turned-consultant Ron Scott; the late Harry Jubelirer, whose Reyers Shoe Store is widely considered the largest store in the U.S.; and Margot Fraser, who introduced America to Birkenstocks.

Ron Scott, who founded Gentlemen's Jodhpur in 1971 in Washington, D.C.'s trendy Georgetown, ran the men's luxe shoes, clothing and accessories company for 40 years. To please his customers, Scott also became a shoe designer, maker and importer, working primarily with factories in Italy and Spain to create the finest leather shoes imaginable. He entered the footwear business at the age of 15, working first for G.R. Kinney Shoes, where he discovered he had a gift for selling shoes. After a stint at the Air Force Academy, Scott went back to Kinney, managing several stores from 1961-63. Next he accepted a position as a manager at The Hecht Company, then one of Washington's most popular department stores. From there he moved to District Red Cross Shoes, where he served as a district manager with stores along the East Coast from Baltimore to St. Petersburg. He rose to vice president, bought into the business and became a co-owner, eventually adding to the company several Scott's Shoes stores, which carried both men's and women's shoes. Looking for a change of pace and less time on the road, Scott sold his interest back to his then-partner, and went out on his own, starting with a 168-square-feet lease in a women's shoe store called Dominique, where Scott sold men's shoes. He was so successful that Gentlemen's Jodhpur followed quickly. [Editor's Note: "Jodhpur” is a region of India, which gave its name both to low-cut boots and to equestrian riding pants.] Scott was elected to NSRA's Board of Directors in the 1978; in 1976, he was honored as NSRA's Retailer of the Year. From 1993-95, he served as Chairman of NSRA's Board of Directors, and helped launch the educational conferences and programming that NSRA is recognized for today. In 2010, Scott left retailing in favor of consulting; he is currently president of Retail Strategies, LLC, which provides strategic and development advice to businesses in the areas of design, product development, retailing and wholesaling.

Accepting the award, Ron Scott said, "I feel very humble to be recognized along with others that I hold with the utmost esteem. I give thanks for the 40-plus years I’ve been a part of NSRA, it’s a great privilege and it’s been a blessing to serve. The exchange of information and programs has been invaluable - NSRA has helped me grow and prosper in our fantastic industry. Thank you.”

Harry L. Jubelirer was born to a family that owned shoe stores in Homestead, Pennsylvania and Morgantown, West Virginia. A 1941 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Jubelirer served in the U.S. Army during World War II, reaching the rank of captain in the European Theatre of Operations, where he received commendations for service during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, Jubelirer purchased Reyers Shoe Store in Sharon, Pennsylvania; Reyers, at the time, was one of six shoe stores in downtown Sharon, each of which specialized in one customer demographic rather than competing with each other. Reyers, which had opened in 1886, catered to women with narrow feet. Founder John Reyer was succeeded by son Carl, whose children were not interested in the business. He knew the Jubelirer family of Pittsburgh, and eldest son Harry bought the store in 1953. By 1986, Jubelirer had moved into a new 36,000-square-foot location with a huge parking lot, easy access, a staff of talented shoe fitters, and an inventory of more than 100,000 pairs of shoes. Jubelirer and his company were featured in Footwear News, which named Reyers one of the "World's Best Shoe Stores,” and other trade publications, as well as in national media including Time Magazine and television's "The David Letterman Show” and "On The Road with Charles Kuralt.” Jubelirer and his brother Sherman, who operated a women's clothing store in Sharon, founded Downtown Sharon Associates, devoted to the cooperative marketing of the community's business district. He served as a member of NSRA's Board of Directors, was a board member for the Sharon Chamber of Commerce, and was active in charitable work with "Shoe Our Children” Foundation, United Way, various animal charities, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Temple Beth Israel in Sharon. Jubelirer brought his sons Mark B. and Steven W. into the business, which they now lead; they also orchestrated its 125th anniversary celebration.

Both sons accepted the award on their father's behalf, with Mark adding "My brother and I thank you, for honoring our father in this way – a lasting and historical testimony to his presence in our industry and in our lives. This is yet another affirmation that our organization, the NSRA, is a federation of competitors and soul mates. I suspect that Harry Jubelirer would say that any independent shoe retailer still left standing is in some way a Hall of Famer, too. Thank you.”

Margot Fraser, founder of Birkenstock USA, first tried on a pair of the sandals while visiting a Bavarian spa, and discovered that the contoured footbed relieved pain in her toes. Born in Berlin, Fraser attended school to learn dress-making. But as Hitler began to rise to power, Fraser's father decided to move his family. They first went to Bremen, where Fraser began making dresses for farm wives and their daughters, then migrated to Toronto, Canada, where a ladies' tailor gave her a job. She gave up custom dress-making in favor of designing and pattern making at a Canadian clothing manufacturer. In the 1990s, Fraser and her husband had settled near San Francisco; because they had developed an interest in natural health, they made plans to tour German health spas and meet with manufacturers of supplements and vitamins. Fraser had developed some foot problems during the war, because good shoes were difficult to find; after two months in Birkenstock sandals, Fraser's foot problems disappeared; she was a convert, and decided to bring the shoes to the U.S. At first, shoe stores in the U.S. were not interested in Birkenstocks, so Fraser took them to health-food stores, which began to find the footwear a following. By 1973, shoe stores were coming to Fraser, asking for product. She convinced the company owner to add color and Birkenstocks took off. From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, sales doubled annually. In the mid-1990s, Fraser began offering employees shares in the business, instead of pension plan contributions. Eventually, employees owned 40% of Birkenstock USA; in 2002, Fraser sold the remainder of the stock to the employees, and retired as company CEO, although she agreed to stay on temporarily as chairman of the Board. In 2007, the original German Birkenstock bought Birkenstock USA from the employees' trust. Fraser, who turned 80 in 2014, still wears Birkenstocks – and millions of Americans are grateful that she introduced them to the iconic footwear. Birkenstock USA president David Kahan, who accepted the award on Fraser's behalf, called her "the ultimate consumer, whose goal in life was to bring comfort and satisfaction to a broader consumer base.” Kahan noted that, when he accepted the presidency, he took Fraser to lunch and "she gave me the keys to the kingdom. She imbued me with the heart and soul of this company – the connection to the consumer through the independent retailer – it’s not 'operational efficiency' but 'How do you do the right thing for consumers and for your retail partners.' That's Margot, and she is very special.”

Induction into the Hall of Fame takes place during NSRA's annual Awards Banquet, held during the Association's Annual Leadership Conference each November.

NSRA was founded in 1912 to represent independent shoe retailers and provide their companies with business services, education programs and information resources that help them remain profitable and at the leading edge of retail. For more information, please visit

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