Longtime business owner dies

Published 10:29 pm Friday, November 7, 2008

Meyer Shoe Company owner Joseph H. Bearden, 79, died Thursday, Nov. 6 at his home after a lengthy illness.

William Ward purchased what was called “Selma’s family shoe store” in 1936 from the Albert Meyer family, which had founded the store in 1896

Bearden began his employment with Meyer Shoe Company as a salesman in 1951. He bought an interest in the business in the 1960s and was named vice president and general manager. After Ward and his wife died, Bearden and his son, William Joseph Bearden, were given the controlling interest.

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“Oh, I shopped at Meyer’s until it closed. It was an excellent store. If they didn’t have what you wanted, they would order it for you,” said Kathryn Tucker Windham. “[Bearden] was always so courteous and treated everyone like a friend.”

After devoting 53 years to the business, Bearden closed the doors of the 106-year Selma landmark.

In an article published in The Selma Times-Journal Jan. 26, 2004, Bearden was quoted as saying “Customers have moved on. They prefer the cheaper prices of a chain store rather than this locally owned, family-operated one. We were not forced out. There is just nobody else to carry on.”

Local historian Alston Fitts remembered the store and Bearden, “”I was very fond of Meyer’s Shoe Store. [Joseph Bearden] was always comfortable to be around. He was an old-fashioned businessman who believed in good service and good products. He treated everyone with courtesy and attention. He was the last old-school businessman that was the backbone of Selma for generations.”