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Cambridge shoe store shutting down after five decades

After over five decades of selling shoes in the downtown core, Thyssen of Galt is preparing to close its doors.
Fred Thijssen and his wife Monica are getting ready to close their local shoe store after 51 years.

Thyssen of Galt has been a staple of the Cambridge downtown core for over 50 years.

Now, the storied shoe store located on Main Street is planning to close its doors for good in the coming months. With local businesses being some of the most impacted by the pandemic, owners Fred and Monica Thijssen are happy to be walking away on their own terms.

“We were doing very well when we were open through COVID despite all that was going on,” Fred said. “Our objective was always to hit our 50th anniversary and see where we would go from there. We had to call it at some point. We’re retiring because we can, not because we have to.”

The stores origins date back to 1971 when Matthias and Jacqueline Thijssen first opened in what was a quaint location in the heart of the city. In 1990, Fred and Monica purchased the store from his parents and have been a significant part of the growth of the downtown.

Three weeks ago the couple posted a retirement video announcing the store would be closing after over five decades of service. Since the announcement, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions. For Fred, who grew up in the business, it’s been about much more than finding people the right size.

“It’s been an extremely emotional three weeks since we announced that we’re closing,” he said. “We literally have generations of families that we’ve looked after. We’ve built relationships way beyond shoes. People have been coming in, giving us hugs, saying their goodbyes and buying their final pair of shoes from us.”

Customers have come from far and wide over the years, but maintaining the stores local roots has always been the goal. With the landscape of retail changing, Fred knows that a hole will be left for the generations of families that have walked through their doors.

“We have customers that have bought kids shoes and then when their kids grow up they bring their kids in,” Fred said. “I’ve been here since day one. Kids have grown up with us. We’ve always been very strong locally minded.”

An official closing date has not been set and the store is currently running a retirement sale with shoes and inventory being marked down.

“If we run out of shoes in the next month, I guess that’s when we’ll close,” he said. “We haven’t set a timeline so there’s no pressure. We've never gone through this process.”

As Fred and Monica get set to begin the next chapter of their lives, they hope they were able to make a positive impact on the community and the people they’ve served.

“Now we plan to do some travelling and have some things we haven’t been able to do over the years,” he said. “I want to say thank you to all our customers for being a part of our lives and hopefully we made your lives better, as well.”

For more information on Thyssen of Galt and to view Fred and Monica’s retirement message visit