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Drahos Shoe Store offers more than just shoes

By ROXANNE DASS

drahos
This apron sold at Drahos Shoe Store in Belle Plaine reflects the effort of owner Don Drahos has started to try and sell more Iowa and Belle Plaine manufactured products. Drahos started to sell several Iowa-based products about 6 to 8 months ago to try and support local merchants.

Don Drahos, a local Belle Plaine businessman, is doing what he can to help support local and Iowa businesses at his store.

Drahos, the owner of Drahos Shoe Store, located at 722-12th St. in Belle Plaine, has started to carry more items than just shoes. His store now carries several items that are unique to Iowa.

“I’ve always had Iowa-unique items before, but I just started to really concentrate on those items about six to eight months ago,” said Drahos.

From small wooden ornaments, soy candles to wooden furniture and paintings, Drahos offers the items to locals and visitors alike.

Drahos said he has noticed a change in where products are made in his years in the shoe business.

“When I began working here, 90 percent of things were made in the U.S. and 10 percent were imports,” he said. “In the 30 years that I’ve been here, it’s changed to 90 percent imports and only 10 percent being made in the U.S.”

Part of the reason he decided to try and sell more local, U.S. and Iowa made products is on a moral basis.

Many of today’s products are manufactured in China, and Drahos said he does not support the country’s treatment of it’s workers.

“I just hate selling things (that are) made in China because (Chinese manufacturers) has little regard for human rights,” said Drahos. “Also, I don’t agree with the persecution of Christians in China. I don’t want to help support a communist China.”

Drahos is also a fan of supporting the local economy.

“I want to keep our state economy as strong as possible,” he said. “Hopefully selling the Iowa products will help in some way.”

Drahos said by selling the products he also helps to expand his business sales.

“Some of the products are fun and not everyone is going to buys shoes,” he said. “Also, when I out-of-state folks come into the store, they are usually want to buy unique products of Belle Plaine or Iowa.”

And Drahos has plenty of products to meet people’s needs. He carries locally grown plants, wood ornaments made by Doug and Pat Sutfin and wood trimmings by Randy Upah. The Sutfins and Upah are all Belle Plaine residents.

Drahos also carried wood furniture, one is a jelly cabinet made of red oak. He carries soy candles made in Norway, lace from Pella, Iowa handmade jewelry, Rada Cutlery and products based out of Waverly, acrylic paintings by an Iowa artist and an assortment of other gift items.

So far, the Iowa items have been a hit, said Drahos.

“I think the response has been very favorable,” he said. “Obviously I’m going to sell an $8 candle more often than a $300 painting, but people seem to appreciate it.”

BACKGROUND

Drahos is a third generation shoe repairman. Drahos’ parents purchased the shoe store’s current location in 1953. They operated the business from 1953 to 1981.

In 1981, Drahos, his wife Beverly and brother Dennis purchased the store from his parents. Drahos and his brother ran the store together until 2009 when Dennis passed away.

The store is a unique store, said Drahos, because of the many services provided.

“We’re a strange little shoe store because we sell more than just shoes and because we provide service that some stores no longer provide.”

UPDATED June 9, 2010 3:18 PM

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