Baggins Shoes is celebrating its 50th anniversary. (File Contributed/ Baggins Shoes)

Downtown Victoria’s Baggins Shoes turns 50

The Converse capital of the city celebrates five decades in business

Baggins Shoes is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but it didn’t start as a booming shoe business. In fact, it started as an early endeavor for a teen who wanted to sell something cool.

When Glen Lynch was 19 he decided he wanted to sell black-lights and black-light posters. The problem was that he could only buy a black-light from a vendor if he had a commercial licence, something which required a business address in 1969.

So, Lynch opted to rent a second-storey floor space in Victoria’s Market Square – originally at $60 per month, but pared down to $25 if he swept the stairs.

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As a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings, Lynch opted to name the store after the main character, and so Baggins began.

“That was the motivation behind that route, and then he realized there was a demand for that stuff,” said new co-owner Tara Savrtka. “He went to other things for a while too, basically becoming a headshop and selling hippy clothing.”

After five years he moved his store to a ground-level space in Market Square, and continued to sell pipes and clothing. In the early ‘80s he drifted away from headshop accessories and shifted instead to sell women’s clothing, with popular sales seen from clothing from India.

One day in the early 1990s one of his clothing representatives brought in a few pairs of Converse shoes.

“He wore them as a kid, and he had a soft spot for them,” Savrtka said. “At the time there were only five or six styles of Converse available, so he took them all.”

Within five years, the shoes were outselling the clothes.

“Soon Converse became all the rage due to nostalgia over the brand and this brand of shoes was outselling everything else we were doing,” Lynch said. “So we dropped all lines and focused on having the largest selection of the brand in the city.”

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Initially Baggins took on Converse and Pumas. In the early 2000s Pumas were dropped in favour of Vans, and in recent years the store has also added Dr. Martens, Stance and Hershel products.

Now, the store has more than 60,000 pairs of shoes in stock, as well as a large online catalogue and a customized printing station to add any design you like to their shoes.

“Glen is shocked that it made it so long,” Savrtka said. “It was something he was doing strictly as a need and it turned into a lifelong business.”

Savrtka, who took over ownership with her husband last year, hopes to continue the legacy.

“I’m looking to hopefully be the next 50 years of Baggins,” she said. “We’re aiming to be one of the key staples of Victoria.”

To celebrate the 50th year, Baggins will host a series of special events. On Oct. 24 the business will throw a customer appreciation day, with prizes available from Vans.

Around the same time, the shop will host 50 days of giveaways, giving out 10 items from Converse, 10 from Hershel, 10 from Stance and 10 from Dr. Martens. A grand prize announced on the actual anniversary, Dec. 1, will award a recipient with a prize from each brand.

Closer to December the shop will also throw a 50th birthday party, where Savrtka says her main goal is to get Lynch in a gold suit.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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