MIRAMAR BEACH — The community has spoken: The Shoe Salon will stay.
Located on U.S. Highway 98 east of Silver Sands Premium Outlets, the nearly 34-year-old business recently decided to bypass its previously advertised retirement after the news devastated its customers.
The salon's billboard now reads: "OK, OK, OK. We hear you. We will stay. We appreciate you."
"This has been an up-and-down roller coaster ride because we literally got ambushed by our customers," said co-owner Donna Adkins, who added that the scare wasn't a marketing scheme and there was every intention to close. "Our customers were not OK with this. I've never experienced anything like it."
Adkins, who said she wasn't ready to retire back in January, added that word of the store closing spread like wildfire and led to countless customers calling, emailing and stopping by — sometimes in tears.
She said exhaustion nearly pushed the owners to the breaking point, but that the community's overwhelming love rekindled their drive.
Following Labor Day, the salon will cut back a day and operate from Tuesday-Saturday.
"We recognize the ministry end of what we do here ... but when exhaustion takes you over, maybe you do things out of desperation," Adkins said. "When we saw what we meant to the community, it stirred something in all of us."
Aimee Adkins, store manager and daughter of Donna, said 2019 has been a wave of emotions.
The Shoe Salon wasn't a job, but rather a joy, she added.
The switch to a five-day work week is a compromise between staff and the community to give customers what they want and the workers what they need.
"I think businesses go for years and they close and they never knew what they meant to their community," Aimee said. "We equally love our customers as much as they love us. ... It's hard to walk away from that."
Donna said Gary Holmes, the business' other co-owner, will continue to handle things in the office while she and Aimee run the floor.
"That dude is never going to retire," she said. "I think he'll go until Jesus comes back."
Looking ahead, the salon will keep all discounted prices listed from the closure until after the New Year. The only other thing that's changed is Nugget, a second standard poodle that was recently added to the mix.
"I think all the blood, sweat and tears that we've put into (The Shoe Salon) ... has been worth every bit of it," Aimee said. "To see that kind of outcry, that kind of emotion from your community, you can't close. ... We care more than just about the soles on their feet."