The Union Shoe store has been in the Mehos/Pappas family since 1929 when the Mehos brothers, Alex and George bought it upon their arrival from Greece. The shop’s original location was at 924 Rosser Ave., where The Monacle Optician is now, and offered services for custom made shoes, repairs, shoe shine and blocking and cleaning hats.
In 1952 Constantine Pappas came to Canada and in 1958 Constantine, or Gus as his customers more commonly knew him, took over the shop upon Alex’s retirement. Before taking over the shop Gus spent many hours quietly observing his father-in-law. Gus picked up the trade during those hours of quiet observation and is self-taught.
The retail aspect of the business was added in 1960 and in 1973 the shoe store and repair shop moved to its present location and continued to offer services in shoe repair and shoeshine. For a short time the shop also sold and repaired hockey equipment.
Gus’s son Bob started in the business as a shoeshine boy in 1967 at the age of ten working on Saturdays. In 1973 when the store moved to its current location, Bob ran the retail end of the business, while going to school. Gus and his nephew Bill ran the repair department. Eventually, Bob, after finishing school, decided that the business was what he wanted and moved up to full time work in the store, and completely taking over in 1987. Gus semi-retired, while Bill continued to run the repair shop, with Bob helping him out as time permitted. Today Bob and his wife Angela run the shoe store with very knowledgeable staff. Bob also continues to offer shoe repair services, but on a limited basis, since the passing of Bill Karavas, after 43 years of loyal service. Bill’s passing has left the repair side of the business without a full time repairman at present.
Many hidden treasures have been found in the basement storeroom and have been put on display in our history showcase just inside the front door. Items included are Alex’s sewing machine, tools from Greece, men’s and women’s shoes from the 60’s and 70’s. It’s worth a visit to the store to see, and hear stories of a business that is being run by the third generation of one family.