July 21, 2014
When you hear the name Herbert’s your mind immediately races to western boots and cowboy hats – the go to store for people that enjoy the western lifestyle. Herbert’s isn’t only western though. They have a wide collection of footwear and clothing including safety boots, western boots, motorcycle boots, moccasins, and outerwear. The store, in Alliston Downtown, actually started out as a shoe repair shop, and then ventured into men’s shoes and safety boots.
In 1956, Herbert Elsner and his wife moved to Canada from Germany looking to start a new life together. In Germany, Herbert was a fully-trained shoemaker and came to Canada to apply his trade. At first he worked at a shoe repair shop in Newmarket, but wanted to open his own. In 1958 they moved to Alliston Downtown and opened Herbert’s. Over the years they diversified their product line, expanding to bicycles and hockey equipment. Skate sharpening became another skill that Herbert became proficient at. Together they worked many hours late into the night to build the business.
Dieter might look like your typical country cowboy, but it’s a look that has developed over time. He originally worked as an electrical technologist for a local manufacturing company, later being promoted to their Burlington facility. Retail was in his blood and he wished to raise his family in Alliston, so when the opportunity arose to take over Herbert’s, he went for it. Dieter’s love was for western boots so that is the direction he steered Herbert’s. Herbert taught Dieter the shoe repair trade and aspects of the shoe business. Over the years the store has grown both in size and in product variety, including many items that are part of the western lifestyle. While the bicycles and hockey equipment are long gone, Herbert’s has retained that same adventurous spirit in finding unique and diverse products.
Dieter focuses on keeping the store a unique experience. The inventory throughout is interesting, from walls and walls of beautifully-crafted western boots, to glass cases of polished belt buckles to suit every personality and occasion. To Dieter’s loyal customers, the store is refreshingly authentic. Herbert’s truly is every working man’s one-stop shop, and every cowboy’s home away from home.