THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Friday, January 20, 1995 TAG: 9501200485 SECTION: BUSINESS PAGE: D1 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY STEPHANIE STOUGHTON, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: CHESAPEAKE LENGTH: Medium: 59 lines
The executive offices of Hofheimer's Inc. were bare Thursday except for a long, teardrop-shaped desk where officials held their last meetings, an unplugged computer and a few papers stacked in a corner.
When the phone lines are disconnected today, it will mark the end of a hometown legacy. Hofheimer's has been in local hands for more than a century - first in downtown Norfolk and then in Chesapeake.
Now, the company's headquarters are shifting to Glastonbury, Conn., home of its new operator, Prague's Shoes. Shore Enterprises Inc., headed by Duncan McDuff, said in November that it would sell ailing Hofheimer's to Prague's owner, Gabor Shoe Co.
Gabor will keep the Hofheimer's name but not its headquarters. The Rosenheim, Germany-based company will run Hofheimer's through Prague's Shoes. None of Hofheimer's 69 stores will close under the buyout, officials have promised.
``I was hoping they'd keep the office here,'' said Melanie Beedy, an accounts supervisor at Hofheimer's, who was sorting through the company's unresolved invoices before heading out for afternoon job interviews.
Longtime employees were hurt the most, said office worker Leah Hultberg.
``A lot of them cried when they left,'' said Hultberg, of Virginia Beach. ``They remember shopping at Hofheimer's when they were kids.''
Aubrey Layne, former president of Hofheimer's, said most of 40 workers at the company's headquarters have found new jobs. Layne, however, is still looking.
By Thursday morning, the showroom racks and warehouse shelves had been emptied of leather loafers, boots, pumps and sandals. A few workers were still sifting through company papers. And a few yards away in the warehouse, dozens of people gathered for an auction of Hofheimer's chairs, desks, file cabinets and other items.
Mark Sweeney, who has shopped at Hofheimer's for years, was considering buying a piece of the shoe company for his own offices.
``I'm trying to get something for a good price,'' said Sweeney, who manages the Virginia Beach offices of SEMCOR, an engineering company. ``It's strictly economic, not nostalgic.'' ILLUSTRATION: STEVE EARLEY/Staff photos
Leah Hultberg, a Hofheimer's office worker, sorts through papers
from the cabinets and desks being auctioned. Today will be her last
Auctioneer Scott Freeman of Old Dominion Fixture Co. takes bids on
office furniture and equipment in Hofheimer's warehouse.
Russ Gribble of Coastal Material Handling looks out on the loading
dock of Hofheimer's warehouse while taking a break from the auction