Heisler's Bootery in Crystal Lake turns to internet to survive during COVID-19 pandemic

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- Heisler's Bootery in Crystal Lake survived the Spanish Flu a century ago, but now the family owned business is struggling through another pandemic.

Like many other businesses, Heisler's Bootery has turned to the internet to survive.

The shoe business has been a perfect fit for the Heisler family for more than a century in downtown Crystal Lake.

Heisler's Bootery has been in the family for three generations.

It was started by Jim Heisler's grandfather, John Heisler Sr.

"He started after he got laid off cutting ice on Crystal Lake. He started off as a shoe repair and harness maker," Heisler said.

Heisler's Bootery has been in the same location since the 1960s.

It was their fourth location in downtown Crystal Lake- as the business grew over the decades they needed more space.

"If all grandparents, Dad and everybody got through the world wars and Depression of the 30s and not to mention the flu of the 1918, how come I can't? I am not going to give up them," Heisler said.

It's been a rough year with the pandemic. And with concerns about what's to come over the next several months, Heisler's Bootery is now selling shoes online.

Jim's wife, Rebecca, has helped with inventory.

"I think, especially if we have another surge of coronavirus and we are shutdown, anyway we are going to be able to sell online," said Rebecca Heisler.

"We will be continuing to do it the old fashion way, but you have to do something and I am not going to give up," Heisler said.

As Heisler goes through his grandfather's tools he knows he's with him in spirt.

"They survived. They retooled. They refashioned themselves but they survived. So that's what we are trying to do, just like his grandfather did," Rebecca Heisler said.

"We have to get through this holiday season. And hopefully we will have a vaccine. I hope and people won't be so afraid to come on out," Heisler said.
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