Bron Shoe Company closes after more than 80 years in business

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It is one last trip down Memory Lane.

For more than 80 years, the Bron Shoe Company at the corner of Alum Creek Drive and Memory Lane in east Columbus preserved precious memories by dipping keepsakes in copper, or popularly known as "bronzing."

Customers brought it a variety of items from baby shoes to memorabilia, to items that you couldn't even believe, to have them last a lifetime. The factory housed a company that created more than 14 million memories in more than 80 years.

"In the 1950's or 60's, we got into direct marketing through Parents magazine and it just exploded," Bob Kaynes, the owner of the company, said.

The Bron Shoe company, started by Kaynes' grandmother in 1934, became the largest bronzing and silver restoration business in the country. 105 employees clocked in each day at the company's peak.

"We were shipping 2,000 baby shoes a day," Kaynes said. "That's a lot of baby shoes!"

Today, there are fewer time cards and employees punching into work. The tools sit idle and the shelves are empty. Only about 50 shoes a day have been making it out of the shop in recent years.

"These are some of the last shoes we're going to be bronzing. It's sad. It's the passing of an era," Kaynes said.

With the final orders going out, Kaynes and his employees still at the plant are surprisingly upbeat. They smile and are proud to have played a hand in memories for so many families around the globe.

"We can mope around here and be depressed or we can say, 'doggone it, we had a really good run!' We should be mighty proud of ourselves," he said.

Over the years, they bronzed some amazing items too, including shoes from golfer Bobby Jones, ice skates from Sonia Henie, and even a pile of horse manure.

Kaynes hoped to maintain the tradition and pass on the business in his family but it just wasn't meant to be. Now, many of the items in the plant and the building itself will go up for auction.

"It's very bittersweet for me but I'm proud," Kaynes said. "I'm proud. I was part of something special."

Customers who submitted orders to the plant will be finished. No new orders are accepted.