The Shop 

When Stowes Shoes & Clothing first opened in 1940, it was a men’s clothing store run by Harry and Clara Stowe, with help from their 10-year-old son Duane. Since then, each generation of the Stowe family have helped shape the business’s identity. Duane helped the business grow by broadening their products and client base, according to his granddaughter Melissa Stowe. 

“When my grandpa came back into the business [in 1954], they went younger,” says Melissa, part of the fourth generation of Stowes to work in the store. “I think that’s when we really became this integral part of the community, because we had kids coming and buying back to school clothes.”  

By the 1980s, they had “really evolved into shoes,” which remains the majority of their business today.  

Photo by Sara Welch

The Atmosphere 

Everyone at Stowes will tell you that the store has a comfortable, familial feel. It is neat and well-sectioned in order to keep its large variety of stock in check. Mementos and shoes line the walls, and displays of exciting new products pop up here and there. Overall, the feeling in the store is welcoming. 

Photo courtesy Stowes Shoes & Clothing

“I would hope that when people walk in they realize we’re helpful and kind,” says Peggy, Duane’s daughter. “That we want to have our customers come in and find what they want … to fill their needs.” 

Key People 

Duane, who recently celebrated his 93rd birthday at the store, and his wife Arleen are the reigning grandparents at Stowes. Their daughter Peggy is the current president of the company. Her daughters are Ashley, who does the accounting and buying, and Melissa, who has taken on the title of creative director. All of them are at the shop almost daily, to see their family and to work sundry tasks in the store with their employees. 

Photo by Sara Welch

The employees are highly trained and provide shoe fittings, experienced customer service, and even gift-wrapping! Some of them have been there for decades, and are celebrated for their longevity and service by the family. 

What You’ll Find 

According to Peggy, Stowes’ top three brands are Birkenstocks, Danskos, and KEENs, but they make sure to carry things like SAS shoes, which are high-comfort, high-quality shoes that are great for people who have foot troubles. Stowes makes the effort to carry hard-to-find options like wide-fits and larger sizes, and Peggy says she makes quite a few special orders for customers.   

Photo courtesy of Stowes Shoes & Clothing

Their in-store selection has everything from house slippers to work boots. Their work clothing extends to high-visibility outfits and hardhats, and they supply many workers in the area. You could start a whole new wardrobe at Stowes, with their selection of comfy-casual clothes, jeans, undergarments, hats, gloves, and even pajamas! Not to mention their local school spirit section, which is bursting with enthusiasm and options. 


In her role as creative director, Melissa has been hard at work bringing Skagit Valley local themes and unique school spirit gear to Stowes. She designs and screen-prints merchandise by hand, including a very successful fundraising shirt that brought the community together to fund scholarships distributed by the Burlington-Edison Alumni Foundation. 

You can check out these fun and modern designs on Instagram, or you could always pay the Stowe family a visit. 

“Here we are, we’re still thriving,” says Duane. “We would be very happy if [you] came down to see us.”  

Photo by Sara Welch

420 E. Fairhaven Ave., Burlington, 360.755.0570,