Robert Tucker Obituary, Visionary Founder of Shoe Show, Dies at 86

Robert Tucker, the creator of Shoe Show, a family-owned retailer that quietly built into a national powerhouse with more than 1,000 outlets across 47 states, passed away on September 30, 2023, leaving the retail sector without a visionary leader. He went away at the age of 86, leaving behind a legacy of tenacity, labour, and a strong dedication to giving families in America access to high-quality footwear.

When he and his wife Carolyn Tucker built the first Shoe Show shop in downtown Kannapolis, North Carolina, in 1960, Robert Tucker’s career in retail officially began. It was a modest beginning, but they had no idea that this family-run company would survive for an incredible 63 years while overcoming the constantly changing retail scene. Today, Lisa Tucker, their daughter, carries the torch as the President and CEO of the company.

Robert Tucker, originally born as Robert Bright Deese, changed his last name after his mother remarried. From a young age, he displayed an unparalleled work ethic, working as a cook and curb boy at Tuck Tavern, his stepfather’s restaurant in Concord, N.C. This early exposure to the world of work laid the foundation for his future success.

Even during his high school years, Robert Tucker’s ambition and determination shone through. He secured a job at Baucom’s Shoe Store during his senior year, an experience that would set the stage for his own retail venture. When he and Carolyn opened their first Shoe Show location on Main Street in Kannapolis, they embarked on a journey that would change their lives and the lives of countless others.

As the decades passed, the Tuckers nurtured Shoe Show’s growth, steadily and quietly, preferring to stay out of the spotlight while building strong industry relationships behind the scenes. Their unwavering commitment to quality and customer satisfaction set them apart in an industry known for its turbulence.

In 2020, as the chain celebrated its 60th anniversary, Lisa Tucker decided to break from tradition and commemorate the milestone in a big way, recognizing the incredible achievements of her parents. “After 60 years, I want to honor them for what they’ve accomplished. It’s absolutely amazing,” she expressed at the time, giving the world a glimpse into the family’s deep sense of gratitude and appreciation.

What sets Shoe Show apart is its vast network of stores that cater to a wide range of customers. With products spanning across genders and age groups, the retailer truly has something for every family member. Alongside a private label assortment, Shoe Show offers an array of well-known brands, including Adidas, Puma, Under Armour, Skechers, and Crocs.

Lisa Tucker once shared, “We really operate each one as a mom-and-pop [format]. We want to give that special touch to whatever is important in that area. It’s a lot of work, but it’s some of the secret sauce that makes us special. In a lot of towns, we’re it. We’re the department store, the Foot Locker. We’re everything for that area, so we need to cater to whatever the needs are.” This dedication to personalized service is a testament to the company’s enduring success.

Robert Tucker’s passing leaves behind a profound legacy. He is survived by his loving wife, Carolyn, and their four children, as well as seven grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. His impact on the world of retail and the countless lives he touched through Shoe Show will be remembered for generations to come.

Services to celebrate Robert Tucker’s life will be held in Kannapolis, N.C. on October 7, 2023, bringing together those who knew him and were inspired by his journey.

In an industry marked by constant change, Robert Tucker and his family’s dedication to quality, service, and their local communities have allowed Shoe Show to thrive. As we bid farewell to this visionary founder, we reflect on the remarkable journey of a family business that quietly transformed itself into a national retail powerhouse, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and soles of countless customers across America. Robert Tucker’s legacy is a testament to the power of hard work, determination, and the enduring spirit of the American dream.