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Giesche building for sale; owner looking to retire

GENEVA – After 38 years in downtown Geneva selling shoes, Giesche Shoes owner Gregory Giesche and his brothers are looking to retire.

“My family has been selling shoes since 1892, and – before that – we were shoemakers,” Giesche said. “My two brothers and I – we’re all in our 60s. They don’t have children, and I have one daughter and she is not interested. So, it’s time to retire.”

Giesche said if someone was interested, he would sell the business as well, but – if not – he would have a retirement sale once the building is sold.

The 4,150-square-foot building at 21 N. Fourth St. was just listed for sale at $799,000 with Real Estate Consultants Inc. of Barrington.

Giesche said the family at one time had six stores, but now have two. The other store in Glen Ellyn is under contract for sale, Giesche said.

“I’m approaching it from this standpoint, that there is all kinds of space for lease in Geneva, but not that much for sale. I’m happy to lease it, but I stand a better chance selling it,” Giesche said. “Geneva has been very good to us. I had a lot of fun [selling shoes], but it’s time to move on.”

According to Geneva Township property records, the building was built in 1955 and has a 1,120-square foot basement. It is a free-standing, single-story structure with masonry brick construction, according to the listing agency.

Randy Kotwica of the listing agency said the building is in business zoning, with a lot of uses permitted, such as a showroom, another retail store, a restaurant or even a winery.

“It’s got potential for redevelopment,” Kotwica said. “The building has a wide-open floor plan top and bottom. It has a large basement with the same footprint as the building itself. It has the potential for many different uses.”

Kotwica said the market was tough, but its location in Geneva and the building’s good condition all work in its favor.

“Downtown Geneva has a lot to offer, Kotwica said. “That’s one of the best things going for it. And it’s a clean building, well-maintained, and it’s still occupied.”

That Giesche was selling the building and looking to retire was sad news to the Geneva Chamber of Commerce. 

“I’m very sad to hear that,” chamber spokeswoman Laura Rush said. “Giesche Shoes is an icon in Geneva. Greg Giesche was Chamber Member of the Year last year.”

As to what he might do in retirement, Giesche said for the time being, he plans to stay in Geneva.

“I’m going to try to do a few things I have not done in 40 years,” Giesche said. “Like go to Swedish Days and have a sandwich. Or go to the Christmas Walk. Or have a glass of wine at Festival of the Vine. These have been around me all my life, but I’ve never been to any of them. I’ve always been in the store.”

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