Our History

history1French’s Shoes & Boots had its start as Walker’s Shoe Store on Main St. in Crossville, TN over 100 years ago. Several generations of the French family honed their footwear skills at Walker’s Shoe Store until it became French’s Shoe Shop in 1972. What began as a small town store selling refurbished shoes grew into a destination shopping experience over the past 40 years. Now with 13 convenient store locations and 2 flea market locations to serve you, we offer a combination of services and products to meet every need.

As you browse our website, you will see that French’s Shoes & Boots is dedicated to offering our customers the very best selection, services, and prices. We offer men’s, women’s, and children’s products with styles and prices to fit everyone! We only carry the highest quality products and offer the best customer service around. We pride ourselves on being Music City’s boot choice. When you think boots, think French’s. Come see why people say, “It makes good sense to shop at French’s!”

Detailed History:
There is a lot of history about the original French’s Shoes and Boots location on Main Street in Crossville, TN. The building originally housed Walker’s Shoe Store. Mr. Cliff Walker started Walker’s Shoe Store in the early 1900’s. The store sold footwear and also had a repair service, which was very important to a business at that time. In those days,  prosperity had not made its way to Crossville and many people had to repair their old shoes and boots instead of replacing with new or used.

Esby French, as a young man, came to work for Cliff Walker in 1935. He worked as a footwear repairman and as time passed all of his sons eventually followed his footsteps. Pascal, Kenneth, Tommy, Jimmy and Esby Jr. all worked in Walker’s establishment in the footwear repair shop.

history2Tommy French, at the age of 12, began shining shoes for Mr. Walker. He worked after school and during the summer. Even though young Tommy was only in seventh grade, he showed great promise with his sincere work ethic and easy ability to talk to people. Tommy was likeable and a hard worker. By the time Tommy was 20 years old, he was managing the store for Mr. Walker. The Shoe Repair Shop and the Shoe Shine Stand had grown into a retail business where Mr. Walker bought factory reconditioned footwear in bulk. The defective shoes were repaired and shined and then sold by the salesman.

As a salesman, Tommy grew very popular with the regular customers because of his remarkable memory of what they wanted by style and even their sizes. Rumor had it “Tommy knew the footwear size of every person in town and or anyone he sold a pair of shoes to.”  Tommy’s memory, honesty, integrity and friendliness were the trademark of Walker’s Shoes.

In 1972 Mr. Walker offered to sell the establishment to Tommy, who was then 30 years old. Tommy purchased the business and changed the name to French’s Shoe Shop. Tommy and his wife Diane worked side by side to build the business to the success it achieved. Jimmy French, Tommy’s brother, worked as a salesman in the business and was also a favorite with the regular customers. Another familiar and long time employee was Emmitt Fields who worked as the main shoe repairman for 20 years. Everyone was familiar with Emmitt’s dedication to his work as well as his friendliness to all the customers. Charlie Threet is now the master shoe repairman and has dedicated nearly 35 years of employment to French’s. Charlie has been working in the repair shop since he was 13 years old and learned the “art of the trade” from Emmitt, Tommy, and Jimmy.

Tommy and Diane’s son, Rodney, grew up working at French’s Shoe Shop applying the same values and hard work. He learned the many jobs just as his father and grandfather did. Rodney purchased the business from his parents in 1992 and he and his wife Kelly managed the store.” Their children, Brad and Julie were raised in the business, just like their father. The Frenchs have grown their Crossville Shoe Shop into 15 locations. Each store and flea market location offer the same honest, friendly, down home service, products, and the best prices across Middle Tennessee.

The brand has now become a Middle Tennessee tradition, much like Goo Goo’s, Martha White, and Cracker Barrel. French’s now sells their products across the country on the web.  You will also find French’s across the country at various stock shows and other events. This all is propelling the French’s brand further across the nation and internationally, positioning French’s as the boots destination of “Music City.”  And it all started on the corner of a block in downtown Crossville, TN.