Hirsh’s Shoes has been on Tucson’s Broadway Boulevard since 1954 and is still thriving. Owner Sid Hirsh talks marathons and his rocky relationship with Siri.Are you an early bird or a night owl? “I’m not a night owl, I never really have been. I get up about 5 o’clock and most mornings I go out and exercise.
“I was a big runner and a hiker. I ran marathons and double marathons and I did the rim-to-rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon 12 times. A bike accident injured my leg so now I just go walking.
“I don’t watch TV, even though we have two of them in the house. I read, mostly magazines and newspapers, and I love NPR radio. I start falling asleep about 8.30pm and I’m in bed by 9.”
Favorite accessory? “My iPhone. It’s the 4S version so it’s got Siri on it, but she doesn’t like me. She keeps giving me instructions on how to hold the phone. So I have some fun with her. I have my calendar on it, I check my emails, and I check my bank account every day. My wife Marsha will not touch a computer but she will do everything on her iPhone.”
Favorite faux pas? “I’ve made my share of mistakes, and more since I’ve got older. Usually I’ll be talking to someone and forget their name.
“I was doing an online order the other night and instead of hitting 1 I hit 11. I called them at 7am the next morning but they work so quickly now, the order had already gone out. So I had to return ten pairs of shoes.”
Dream customer? “Anyone who buys shoes from us. It’s a sit-and-fit store. We actually fit people, and we have highly skilled staff.”
If I weren’t a shoe store owner I would... “I’ve been selling shoes for 58 years and I can’t imagine doing anything else. My mother opened the business in April 1954 as a boutique children’s store and I joined in the November. I was going to be a history teacher. I had been studying for a master’s degree in history and did just one year of it before I was drafted into the Army. I had a wife and baby and I needed the job. But I’ve enjoyed it, and I would have starved as a teacher.”
If I could change one thing I would… “I publicly said that if there comes a day when they widen Broadway I’m going to close the store. I’ve gone through two street widenings and I’m not going to go through a third. You have a good couple of years of being out of action. It’s a lot of money and with it comes a lot of heartbreak.”
Hirsh’s Shoes specializes in pedorthic footwear and dance shoes and accessories, and employs five full-time and two part-time employees. The building was owned by the Hirsh family and designed by noted architect Bernard Friedman. At one point the business grew to five stores across Tucson. Sid, aged 82, still works there five to six days a week.