March 30, 2010 in Business

Berg’s new owner says shoe store will add brands, keep name

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Chris Berg, left, has sold Berg’s Shoes to Alex McCauley, right. The store has been in its Sprague Avenue location since 1942.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location

When Oliver Berg lost his job back in 1930, he took his savings and rolled the dice, starting Spokane’s first shoe store just for kids.

Eighty years and three generations later, his grandson, Chris Berg, has passed the business to another family.

New owners Alex and Beth McCauley took over Berg’s Junior Shoes in February. They say they hope to run the shop another three generations.

They also said there are no plans to change the name of the downtown fixture at 818 W. Sprague Ave.

“After 80 years of the same name, we’ll definitely leave it as Berg’s,” Alex McCauley said.

The only change is to streamline the name to Berg’s Shoes, he added.

The store is the first business the McCauleys have owned. Alex, 26, has a business degree from Gonzaga University. His wife, 27, has a degree from Washington State University and is a registered nurse.

Alex McCauley recalls coming to the Sprague Avenue store as a child for his first pairs of shoes.

His mother, Cynthia Doerschuk, also shopped at Berg’s when she was a child, he said.

Originally started in the Peyton Building, Berg’s Shoes moved to its current address in 1942. During the 1960s the family-owned business added stores in University and Shadle Park malls.

By the time Chris Berg, 58, took over from his father, Jack Berg, in the 1990s, they had closed all but the downtown store. That store has been open six days a week ever since.

Chris Berg closed the store for just one day, in 1999, after breaking his collarbone in a bicycle fall.

Berg and his father realized three years ago that they had no one in the family interested in carrying on the business.

The Bergs placed ads in local papers looking for a buyer. About a year ago, Alex McCauley, who was working for Diamond Parking Services, called and said he was interested.

Berg said he plans to continue working part time for the McCauleys to help them through the transition.

“I remember Alex from when he was a young boy coming here,” Berg said. “He had a determination about him.”

Neither the McCauleys nor Berg would disclose terms of the sale. Berg said a Small Business Administration loan is covering about one-third of the purchase, and he’s carrying the balance with a contract.

The McCauleys intend to add more children’s brand names to the lineup.

Berg’s also carries adult shoes and sandals, and that line of products will also grow, McCauley said.


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