Stepping away – Publix Shoe is closing its doors after 63 years

There is a sign in the window of Publix Shoe that Winthrop that hasn’t been seen in 63 years: “Retirement Sale.”

Alas, after more than six decades of running his popular shoe store in Winthrop Center, Anthony “Tony” Rossetti is calling it a career and closing his business.

“It’s been an emotional time saying good-bye,” said Rossetti.

He and his brother, Louis, first opened the store on November 18, 1947, a few doors away from its current location. Together the brothers made the early transition from shoe repair to shoe sale business and became the go-to gentlemen for shoes for Winthrop residents for the next five decades. Louis Rossetti passed away in 1999.

“My brother and I had a great relationship for all those years,” said Tony Rossetti. “It was a very good association.”

What’s in Publix, the name since Day 1?

“Nothing really, we thought it was a little different twist on Public,” said Tony.

What has never changed has been Tony Rossetti’s commitment to furnish customers with the highest quality shoe wear. And customers have appreciated the extra effort and individual attention, with some former Winthrop residents returning to the town just so that Rossetti can fit their child for his/her first pair of shoes.

“During the holidays, people will come and visit the store and every year they’ll say, ‘Hey, Tony, I’ve waited to have you fit my child for his first pair of shoes – that’s really a tribute,” said Rossetti.

Each customer’s satisfaction mattered a lot to Tony Rossetti.

“Each customer is important,” said Rossetti. “I don’t sell shoes unless they fit. If I don’t have it in stock, I’ll tell them that I’ll order it for them. I don’t fit improperly.”

Mary Ann Matarazzo has been one such satisfied customer for generations. She was in the store last week helping her grandchildren, Anna and Tyler, pick out some sneakers for the summer and fall.

“Tony fitted all my brothers and sisters for our shoes – there were five of us,” said Matarazzo. “He fitted our children and now he’s fitting our children’s children – so he’s fitting our grandchildren.”

Matarazzo said Mr. Rossetti has become an institution in the town.

“We’re going to miss him – he’s like a staple in the community,” said Matarazzo. “He’s a wonderful man. He’s sorely going to be missed.”

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director said Publix Shoe was a founding member of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce that is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

“Tony is the epitome of a good businessman,” said Gaynor. “He and his brother operated the business in the best way in every sense. I think he made his surrounding businesses better. He made the town a better place for offering that type of service that he had and he will be missed.”

Belle Liberman, owner of Belle’s Little Shop for 45 years in Winthrop Center, said the town benefited greatly from Rossetti’s presence in its business community.

“We were neighbors and have been friends for years,” said Liberman. “It very sad that he’s closing after all these years. He’s decided to leave the business and enjoy a little bit of life. He’s a wonderful man who’s going to be missed.”

Rossetti said he’ll miss being a part of people’s lives on a daily basis.

“Winthrop is a great town – it’s family oriented and the Chamber of Commerce does a great job,” said Rossetti. “Seeing the energy of the people here brings us back to the time when we were young and came here and were full of enthusiasm.”

“Tony’s going to miss all his customers and I’m sure they’re going to miss him,” says his friend, Janice George. “He has been a wonderful man not only to the kids that loved him, but to the people who depended on him for getting their shoes.”

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