Guarantee Shoe Center

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Profile appeared in our 31-1 Issue – April 2014

For over 60 years, Guarantee Shoe Center has been tending to both the soles and the souls of our community.
Back in August of 1953, Nat Slepyan decided to put his years of experience in the shoe business to good use here in Bakersfield. Slepyan and his son-in-law Leon Rolnick opened their store at 21st and Chester.

1950s

1950s

“They were able to find a great building in the heart of downtown,” explained Leon’s son, third generation owner Rosco Rolnick. Those early years were challenging as downtown was still recovering from the ‘52 earthquake.
According to Rosco, when the store opened it was originally an outlet store with shoes on display from floor to ceiling. “We were primarily carrying inexpensive to moderately priced shoes,” he added. “My grandfather wanted to give our customers a great shoe at a great price.”
Thankfully the late ‘50s saw a lot of growth, which continued throughout the ‘60s. But the store made sure to give back. “My grandfather and father were both very generous men, supporting children’s events at the Fox Theater, Little League, and Boy Scouts, which I was also involved with later,” Rosco said.
When Slepyan passed away in 1966, Leon took over managing the store with the help of a young Rosco, who said that from an early age, the family business was where he wanted to be.
“I started working at the store in the early ‘60s as an assistant stock boy. By the time I was sixteen, I was on the sales floor.”
After a year in Vietnam, Rosco returned to Bakersfield and back to work at the store. Tragically, in 1970, a fire started in the building Guarantee Shoe Center was housed in (which also housed a bar and a deli). While working in the building across the street in the interim, Leon and Rosco went about reconstructing their dreams. It took three years to rebuild the store; though this time, Guarantee Shoe Center would take up the entire building.

Rosco Rolnick and daughter, Sarah

Rosco Rolnick and daughter, Sarah

“And at this point, we wanted to change direction. We’ve always gone above and beyond for our customers with our wide selection and excellent service.  At this point, we added the best name brands and put in a separate sale room”
Rosco began taking over more duties at the store throughout the ‘70s until Leon officially retired in the ‘80s. In the early ‘90s, Rosco began a shoe drive for the Bakersfield Homeless Center that has, in its existence, provided well over 55,000 pairs of shoes to those in need. Recently, Rosco has started donating to the Bakersfield Rescue Mission and the CSUB Athletic Scholarship Fund as well.
“Through it all, we watched the competition come and go,” Rosco added. Now, a fourth generation has entered the business, Rosco’s daughter Sarah. She is very active in the business, helping in all aspects including marketing, buying, and sales.
“Today, we are the oldest independent shoe store in Bakersfield,” he mused. “We love supporting our community.” With this kind of dedication to employees, customers, and community, the people of Kern county will undoubtedly continue their support of Guarantee Shoe Center. When was the last time you had your feet measured?

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