Summer Allen stands at the counter at her downtown Bangor shoe store, Valentine Footwear. Credit: Emily Burnham / BDN

After 11 years outfitting the feet of women in eastern Maine with stylish, comfortable shoes, boots and sandals, Valentine Footwear in downtown Bangor will close its doors in early 2023.

Owner Summer Allen, who first opened the shop in 2011, said that she’s not closing for any other reason than she is ready for a change of pace, both professionally and personally.

“I have built meaningful relationships with my customers, my vendors and other local businesses. I’ve had great employees over the years, and we have helped thousands of women find shoes they love,” Allen said. “But after a dozen years, I am also in a different place in my life, and I am interested in exploring new professional opportunities.”

Opening Valentine Footwear already came as a change of pace for Allen, now 42, who previously worked in environmental policy at the University of Maine. After being laid off from UMaine, however, she decided to try her hand at owning a small business.

Though downtown Bangor 11 years ago had already undergone a significant amount of growth compared to its nadir in the 1990s, over the past decade, Allen said she’s watched the area’s business scene blossom.

“I have loved being a part of downtown Bangor all these years, and it will always be a place I call home,” she said.

In addition to classic footwear lines such as Birkenstock, Born and Sanita, Allen also stocks an array of international brands, as well as socks, handbags, scarves and jewelry.

Allen comes from a shoe family. Her father, Mike Allen, opened Winterport Boot Shop in 1974, offering top-quality work boots and winter and hiking footwear. That shop, now located in Brewer, fits work boots for major companies and for the state of Maine. Summer Allen’s first job was as a “runner” at her family’s shop, getting different sizes for customers.

A few other downtown Bangor businesses have closed in recent months or intend to close shortly. The Solstice Cafe on Main Street, for instance, is slated to close on Nov. 30. Epic Sports, a longtime retailer located at 6 Central St., closed in September, but last week it was announced that Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness would move its offices into that building and open a cultural and youth center there. Out on a Whimsey, a toy store, also plans to open at 49 Main St .

Allen will slowly start selling off inventory over the holiday season and into January. She intends to have her final day sometime in late February or early March.

“It will be nice to take a few months off, and maybe even go on a proper honeymoon,” said Allen, who married her husband, Jeff, in 2021. “I’m excited for the next step.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Winterport Boot’s connection to a uniform shop.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.