Alabama’s love story with our iconic Sikes Children’s Shoes began on Valentine’s Day in 1955. Back in those days we were called Sikes & Peters’ Shoes, and believe it or not, we sold footwear for men, women and children.
When Mr. Peters left the store in 1959, we began operating solely under the direction of Mr. Sikes. His first order of business? Selling children’s shoes exclusively. He believed that every child should have a quality, fashionable shoe that fits properly—and that mom and dad can be proud of!
In the late 1950s, Mr. Sikes began to get the itch to move. His customers loved him, and his business expanded greatly in a short period of time. He needed more room. It was then that Mr. Sikes struck up one of the most important business partnerships of his career. You see, across the street was the Jack n’ Jill clothing shop, owned then by Mr. Burman and his wife Jeanette. Mr. Sikes kindly asked Mr. Burman to take over the Sikes Children’s Shoes storefront, while Mr. Sikes himself would move next door into a bigger retail space. In exchange, Mr. Sikes offered to create an open doorway between the two stores so customers could shop seamlessly at both.
To this day, the two stores are connected in this fashion. And when the owners of Jack n’ Jill retired, the Sikes family purchased the clothing store themselves. Together these two stores serve as icons in the Birmingham community, withstanding wars and economic downturns. In fact, it’s commonplace for customers to buy an outfit for their child next door in Jack n’ Jill, walk over to the Sikes side for a pair of shoes, and then head on down to Savage’s Bakery for a post-shopping treat.
For 5 decades, both Sikes Children’s Shoes and Jack n’ Jill were owned and operated by Mr. Frank Youngs, who married into the Sikes family in the 1960s. For more than 50 years, Frank served as a shoe fitter in the shop, telling riddles or spinning his yo-yo for his new generation of young customers. In 1991, a 16-year-old Laura Player joined Frank Youngs at Sikes. She started as a children’s shoe fitter there, working her way through both high school and college. In 1998, Mr. Youngs decided to open a second Sikes location in Hoover, Alabama. Laura came on as the manager of that space, handling its buying and inventory. When the Hoover location closed, Laura came back to Homewood where it all began. She took over as the manager for Jack n’ Jill Shop next door, and in 2014 she purchased both Sikes and Jack n’ Jill from Mr. Youngs. Today she is both the owner and one of the store’s longest-standing employees.
Since our beginning in the 1950s, Mr. Sikes always put customer service ahead of sales. Today we are proud to say we do the same. We know that’s one of the reasons we have survived and thrived in the Birmingham community for so long. We are one of the few stores who can boast serving customers from 3 generations. We have young mothers who got their shoes from us as a child and now come to Sikes for their own children. We strive to continue creating memories for Birmingham’s children for generations to come.