The Shoemaker family’s presence in the grocery business in South Charleston started in March, 1924, when Joe Irwin opened a store on the corner of Mound and Chillicothe Streets. That location is now a part of Shoemaker’s IGA parking lot. He was an uncle to Earl, Floyd, Ray, and Ralph Shoemaker, who were all active in South Charleston’s business community. Joe Irwin sold out in 1936, then Ray Shoemaker brought it back into the family, purchasing the business in 1949. Ray then sold it to his brother, Floyd, in 1952. Floyd operated the grocery store until 1965 when he sold out to his nephew, Ron Shoemaker and Ron’s business partner, Jack Garringer.
Floyd Shoemaker’s Linger Inn restaurant opened in 1937 in the new building at the corner of Routes 41 and 42. He later operated it as the Blue Point Inn at the same location. He managed his brother Ralph’s grocery from 1942 – 44 when the business was sold. Floyd then purchased a grocery store on Route 42 West next to the railroad tracks and operated this store until 1948. In 1952 he purchased the store at the corner of Chillicothe and Mound Streets.
In 1936 Ralph Shoemaker purchased land on Route 42 East, opposite the present senior citizens apartments. A new building was built and he opened a new “modern up-to-date” market on May 27, 1937. He sold groceries and general merchandise and also built alongside a new service station. He later added a pool room, then sold the business in 1944. He purchased the Houston Inn in 1945, did some remodeling, and in 1946 opened Shoemaker’s Service Store, known as a “Firestone” store. Later in the 1940s he built a new building at 12 S. Chillicothe Street, moved his store there, and renamed it “Shoey’s.” In the late 1960s he downsized, moved across the street to 9 S. Chilicothe Street, then retired and sold the business to Jack Garringer and Ron Shoemaker. During the 1960s he also operated the Gross Store in the Masonic building and a variety store across the street from Shoey’s at 15 S. Chillicothe Street.
Earl Shoemaker operated a dairy in Pitchin and delivered milk door-to-door in South Charleston from 1933 until 1940, when he purchased a grocery store in South Vienna. He, and later his family, operated the store until it was closed in 2010.
On December 23, 1969 there was a major fire in the business district of South Charleston. Our grocery at Chillicothe and Mound Streets was the only business involved that survived the fire. Our two story brick building had a thick firewall protecting it from the adjoining buildings, which were all single story frame structures. The businesses that burned were Huff’s Electric, Rae’s Confectionary, and Gohl’s laundromat and grocery store.
Earl purchased all the destroyed properties, had the area cleared, and built Shoemaker’s Shopping Plaza. Opening in 1973, the new plaza included Shoemaker’s Grocery, Shoemaker’s Hardware, Security National Bank, and the US Post Office. Jack Garringer managed the grocery until 1980, when he moved across the street to operate the new hardware store he owned along with Ron Shoemaker. The new hardware store was built to allow expansion of the grocery. The hardware store, which had been purchased from Ralph Shoemaker when it was located at 9 S. Chillicothe, was moved when the new shopping center opened. Bill Shoemaker started working at the hardware store in 1992 and in 1994 Bill and Ron Shoemaker purchased the Garringer interest.
In 1999, Bill Shoemaker and his brother, Kenny, opened a NAPA Auto Parts store in the building next to the railroad tracks that presently contains the township offices. The auto parts store and the hardware store later combined at the hardware location.
In 2005, Bill and Kenny Shoemaker opened the “Purple Monkey,” a pizza and sub shop in the old Sentinel newspaper building.
Mike Garringer, Jack’s son, became manager of the grocery in 1980, when the hardware store was moved. He purchased his dad’s share of the business and Jack and Roma Jean Garringer retired in 1992. Mike and his wife, Patti, continued operating the store and near the end of 2010 were joined by Rollie and Stephanie Shoemaker. Rollie Shoemaker purchased his dad’s half of the business in 2012 and later purchased Mike’s share, becoming sole owner of Shoemaker’s IGA the first of January, 2015.