GREAT FALLS — Siller’s Boot & Shoe Repair business has been in Great Falls for almost a century, under different ownership and different store names.
Past owner Dennis Siller recalls its history, “It started in 1924 by a fellow by the name of Fred Sherer on the corner of 12th Street and 5th Avenue North.”
During that time, the business was named North Side Shoe Repair.
According to Dennis, his father, Casper, purchased the building in 1958 and continued running the business at that location until 1964.
In 1964, Casper Siller moved the business to its current location at 1500 8th Avenue North.
Dennis continued, “He worked up until 1968 and I bought it from him in 1969.”
Dennis and his wife Jeri Lynn ran the business ever since and changed the name of the business to Siller Boot & Shoe Repair.
“She kind of ran the front end, she did the patching, she took care of the customers for the most part,” Dennis recalled. “And I worked in the back.”
But after over 50 years in the business, the Siller’s decided it was time to retire and pass the business onto someone else.
Dennis said, “Tom actually just walked in the door with a pair of shoes to repair. He just happened to ask, ‘Does this business happen to be for sale?’ And it went from there.”
Since June, Tom Barrett is the new owner of the business.
“I was looking for a change of pace,” said Tom. “I’ve always enjoyed trades work and working with my hands. I’ve always been interested in good boots and treat my feet well.”
Tom is originally from south Idaho. He also spent time in Nevada and Alaska before moving to Montana around 2 years ago.
Tom is looking to expand the business, “I’m looking into doing more, a wider variety of repairs, including Chaco’s, climbing shoes. I’m really trying to test the market.”
Tom is also trying to get the word out about his type of business to the younger generation.
For now, Dennis is working side-by-side with Tom to teach him all the ins and outs of the trade.
Dennis said, “I’m more here to say, ‘No, no it works better this way.’ Because there are tricks to every trade and there are ways to do it that are a lot easier.”
“I couldn’t ask for a better teacher, I couldn’t ask for a better co-worker,” added Tom. “It has been more seamless than I ever thought possible”
“I’m excited that the business is going to go on. It’s got a very long history in Great Falls,” added Dennis.
At this point, while Dennis is still showing Tom the ropes, Tom will keep the name of the business the same. But he said in the future he will possibly re-brand the business and change the name.