June 15, 2024 12:26 am

Founder of iconic Lena’s Shoe Gallery passes away

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The namesake of an iconic place to shop in Shreveport has passed away.

Lena’s Shoe Gallery is a staple shopping destination for women throughout the generations. It has been open on the corner of Milam Street in downtown Shreveport for decades.

Owner Lena Thomason passed away Monday morning at 94 years old.

“How many people can say they spent 71 years doing the thing they loved and that was shoes?” Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Liz Swaine said.

Swaine knew Lena and explains that she was a businesswoman who had an eye for fine footwear and customer service.

“Here’s a woman who made a career for herself. She was supporting herself and her family. She had customers that loved her and came near and far to buy shoes from Lena. If they weren’t from Lena, they weren’t going on feet.”

Thomason’s love for sales started when she was just 16 years old. Brooks Sneakers  The owner of Rubenstein’s recruited her to be his shoe saleswoman in 1945 – a time many women had to join the workforce because men were serving in World War II.

“The first week she was there selling shoes, she made the princely sum of $55 dollars,” Swaine said.

Lena worked at Rubenstein’s until it closed in the 1980s. Not wanting to give up her craft, she opened her own business right down the street, where she stayed until her retirement right before turning 90.

“So many people bought shoes from Lena. People probably still have shoes in their closet from Lena. She really knew and touched so many people,” Swaine said.

A businesswoman and friend to many, Lena leaves behind a lasting boutique, name, and legacy for Shreveport.

Lena’s Shoe Gallery is now owned by Phoebe Kimble of Shreveport who kept the name as one way to honor Lena.

Visitation is this Sunday, April 3 from noon to 2 p.m. at Rose-Neath Southside Funeral Home. Her funeral will follow.

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