WILTON — After more than 40 decades in business, Hayden Bros. Shoe Co. started a closing sale last week.

No closing date has been set but before winter, Manager Victoria Geis said Friday. 

The sale is to liquidate stock before the building is sold, she said.

Evangeline Hayden, Geis’ mother, is the sole owner and has decided it’s time, she said.

Hayden’s health issues and the economy have taken their toll on the business, which was founded in the 1960s by Geis’ uncles, Lewis Jr. and Roger Hayden, she said.

Her parents, Richard and Evangeline, and her grandfather, Lewis Sr., eventually took it over from the uncles.


Geis has worked at Hayden Bros. Shoe Co. for 26 years. Her adult son now works with her along with two part-time employees, she said.

It’s a mobile society; people travel to other cities to shop or order shoes on the Internet, she said. 

The store has seen fewer tourists, and she feels many local people are unemployed or don’t have the money to purchase better-quality footwear.

A few clothing items were added over the years to the stock of shoes, boots and moccasins, she said.

Gone are the shoe stores such as Flood’s Shoe Store in Farmington and Burgess and Dexter in Wilton, which offered Maine-made Bass and Dexter lines.

The Hayden brothers started the business with a Dexter line. 


After running a shoe shop in Puerto Rico for Dexter Shoe Co., Lewis Jr. returned to Maine but he couldn’t go back to work as a laborer after running a shop, she said. 

His brother, Roger, had worked in the tannery.

They built a small cabin on the present site on Routes 2 and 4 and started selling shoes. Later the long, one-story building was constructed.

Victoria Geis’ grandparents, Lewis and Mae Hayden, were already running a shoe store in downtown Wilton.

When the uncles added work boots to the stock, Dexter wanted them to remain solely with the Dexter line, she said.

They brought in Old Maine Trotters factory seconds and some seasonal wear. In the 1970s, they brought the SAS factory-seconds line to Wilton.

Now, around 50 years later, everything is on sale, she said.


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