Be assured that your feet are in good hands at Bail's!


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Our History E-mail


The history of Bail's Custom Footcare dates back to 1890 when Napoleon Bail opened his shoe repair shop at the foot of Hampden St. in Holyoke, MA. Napoleon, learned cobbling from his brother Jean and shortly thereafter purchased Nicholas Sancier's cobble shop at Hampden and Front streets doing repairs but also eventually selling shoes.

Napoleon Bail and his wife Hermine had 5 sons and 2 daughters. Their son Romeo died at age 22. Roderick A. established Remoh Leather Findings Co., which was a  wholesale business supplying soles and heels along with other shoe repair parts for other shoe repair businesses throughout the area. Oscar A. got involved in the retail side of the business around 1923. Homer ran the Shoe Repair Shop and Edgar worked doing shoe repairs. Leah worked as a cashier and did bookkeeping while her sister Clara occasionally waited on customers but primarily was a cashier. In 1924, the business was moved to 168 High Street.

In 1953, Oscar J. became the third generation Bail family member in the shoe business. Oscar J. graduated from Tufts University in 1949 earning a Bachelor's degree in Economics and received his MBA from the University of Michigan in 1951. His Master's emphasis was on Marketing. At the age of 14, Oscar J.'s only son Christopher would join his father working at the family's shoe shop. In 1970, Oscar A. retired from the business. He died 9 years later at the age of 79.

In 1975, Michelle (Hunter) Bail graduated from Holyoke Community College majoring in Science, earning her Associate's Degree. The next day, Chris and Michelle were married. A month later, Michelle passed her State Boards to become a Registered Nurse. In 1979, Oscar Bail and Son Shoes opened at 311 High Street, known to many as the Kempton Building.

 In 1994, at the age of 14, Chris and Michelle's daughter Laura, like her father, started working at the family business. Chris and Laura decided to become Board Certified Pedorthists. To do so, they received on- the-job training from Oscar, who was one of the first Board Certified Pedorthists in the area.  After completing 120 hours of coursework at the New York School of Podiatry in New York City which was taught by instructors from Eneslow Pedorthic Enterprises, now known as Eneslow Pedorthic Institute, they sucessfully passed an exam on required topics.  Shortly thereafter both Chris and Laura passed their Board Certifications together.

 In 2000, Oscar Bail and Son Shoes closed its doors at 311 High Street, and with it Oscar retired. With that, they renamed the business Bail's Custom Footcare, and moved to South Hadley where they rented space from Valley Podiatry Associates at 81 Williamansett Street. After being there for 2 years, they outgrew the space and came to the realization that there was a need for more stringent confidentiality regarding patients' records. With these factors in mind they decided to move the business to the Chap de Laine Furniture Complex, 130 College Street, Suite 225, South Hadley and have been there since. 


Written by Dan Boyle
Staff Writer for the Town Reminder