Wilkinson's Wholesale Shoe Company Inc. was founded in 1968 by Bill and Jean Wilkinson of Helena, Arkansas. Bill, general manager of Helena Wholesale Dry goods Company, already was familiar with the wholesale shoe business when he decided to start his own company in Conway. Initially, shoes were sold to stores only.
Bill, Jean, and a handful of employees managed the company until 1974 when Bill died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 48.
Mike Wilkinson, their son, was in the Marine Corps with two weeks left on a four-year hitch. Jean, Mike, his sister, Jenny Wilkinson Honey, and Steve McEntire, a son-in-law, continued the business.
In 1980, Wilkinson's became a distributor of Kangaroo Shoes for eight states. In 1986, the decision was made to liquidate the shoes and dissolve the corporation.
In 1987, Mike, Jenny and Jean decided to reincorporate and diversify the business into a wholesale/retail operation. By 1995 the company went 100% retail with no on-line commerce.
The family said that by the grace of God, and with the addition of Mike's three daughters and about 50 great employees, the company thrived.
Today, the store consists of more than 20,000 square feet and carries Arkansas' largest shoe, boot and sock selection for the entire family. Wilkinson's Mall offers hundreds of the world's most well-known brands. The store also features narrow, medium, wide and extra wide widths of shoes and boots.
Apparel, outerwear, camo, accessories and jewelry were added to the mix about 1995.
In 2018, a statewide magazine held a reader's poll that voted Wilkinson's Mall as The #1 Best of the Best Shoe Store in Arkansas.
And, thank you to each and every soul who has been a customer of Wilkinson's.
Last, but not least, we owe the success of this company to all the hundreds and hundreds of suppliers, vendors, creditors and their representatives. Mike's grandfather told him, "Treat all salesmen with honor and respect. They will make you or break you." Without the Grace of God none of this could have happened.