Memphis, Tennessee: Schwab's Shoe Thief Bait

A lone shoe, displayed as bait for the thief who absconded with its mate over 100 years ago. Historical marker across the street. Store museum on Schwab's mezzanine and second floor sales area.

A. Schwab

Address:
163 Beale Street, Memphis, TN
Directions:
On Beal St. between 2nd St. and 3rd St. Always in the display window on a pedestal.
Hours:
June 2013: Reported MIA
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Schwab's Shoe Thief Bait

Couldn't find the shoe in the front window display. Asked the cashier, she stated she didn't know where they put it. Couldn't find it anywhere in the store. But they do have a nice nostalgic museum on the second floor with vintage store items.

[Tansy Ridings, 06/18/2013]

Shoe waiting for a thief.

Schwab's Shoe Thief Bait

Since 1876, A. Schwab's general store has been a fixture on Beale Street in historic downtown Memphis. A hundred years ago Sam Schwab -- grandfather of the present owner, Elliott Schwab -- would place shoes and other items for sale on a table outside as a display. After a man stole a pair of shoes, the owner decided to display one shoe from a pair to discourage theft. After all, who would steal a single shoe?

Unfortunately, someone did just that when they took the right shoe from the display. Sam's next move to catch the thief was to bait the table with the left shoe, reasoning the thief would no doubt return to complete the pair.

One hundred years later the lonely shoe is still patiently waiting. In fact, the shoe has become so well known that it has a prominent place in the front display window and its lonely saga is documented on a historical plaque across the street.

Walking into the store is like entering a time capsule, as things have changed little over the past century. One unique display at the back of the store is a pair of size 72 jean overalls that have been on display for 72 years! So, for a walk back in time, A. Schwab is hard to beat -- and the friendly management is at your service. Don't forget to visit the museum on the mezzanine and the second floor sales area.

[Phil Pasquini, 12/23/2010]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Beale StreetBeale Street, Memphis, TN - < 1 mi.
Burgers Cooked in 100-Year-Old GreaseBurgers Cooked in 100-Year-Old Grease, Memphis, TN - < 1 mi.
Statue of ElvisStatue of Elvis, Memphis, TN - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Controversial Grave of Nathan Bedford Forrest, Memphis, TN - 1 mi.

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