Passion Guided Harry’s Shoes Visionary
By Ashley Welch
Joseph Goldberg, whose family founded the iconic Harry’s Shoes on the Upper West Side, died last month at the age of 83.
Goldberg had been very active in the day-to-day operations of the business right until he fell ill several weeks ago.
“He visited the store four to five times a week, spent hours on the floor, in the offices and in the stockroom, greeting and meeting with vendors, staff and customers,” said Vice President William Kay Rood.
A native New Yorker, Goldberg grew up in the Bronx, where his father, Harry, opened the shoe store in the 1930s. It moved to its current location on the Upper West Side in 1975, where a standalone children’s store was later added. Goldberg began working at the store after he returned from Ohio State University.
In recent years, Goldberg handed over most of the daily operations to his son, Robert, but retained an active interest in the business.
Rood remembers him as a mentor, friend and teacher.
“He was just about everything you’d want from a man,” he said. “He was a kind, giving, caring individual.”
Robert Goldberg said his father was a man who always put his family first and taught him and his sister Randi, who is also currently on staff at Harry’s Shoes working in operations, many valuable lessons.
“He gave us principles to live our lives by that guide the ways we act and treat other people,” he said. “He inspired us to be the best we can be in every endeavor and taught us to follow our passions and value family above all else.”
Robert called his father a “true ambassador and visionary of the footwear industry.” He said Goldberg mentored other workers in their profession, many of whom credit him for their successful careers.
Goldberg was also well loved by his customers.
“He touched everyone he came into contact with,” Robert said. “The customers loved seeing him. Some of them who lived in the neighborhood when the store first moved here would stop him in the street and say hi or tell him that he sold them a pair of shoes.”
The main Harry’s Shoes store is currently expanding its footprint, from 2,800 square feet to 6,500 square feet.
According to Rood, Goldberg played a vital role in the negotiation, design and merchandising of the planned expansion.
“This is his legacy—to see that the business continues to thrive and grow after his passing,” he said.
Goldberg is survived by his wife, Eleanor; children Robert and Randi; and grandchildren Samantha, Josh, Harry and Eddy.
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