Ralph Shore had the idea of opening his own store while working at Person’s Department Store in Kissimmee. That dream was put on hold by World War II. After graduating from high school and he joined the Army Air Forces. Spending time in the European Theater and South Africa he flew C-47 transports dropping men and supplies behind enemy lines and picking up wounded soldiers. Ralph saved his money and returned to Kissimmee after the war with his business vision intact. He went to work at Rutland’s Men Store in Orlando. In January 1946 he met Helen and they were married in April. Together in October of that year they opened Shore’s Men’s Wear at 201 Broadway in Kissimmee the very location it remains today. The store carried western hats, boots and shirts when they first opened. “At that time ranching was the main industry and the economy was centered around its needs,” Helen Shore said. “On Wednesday afternoons the town closed down because of livestock activities. The buying and selling of cattle took priority over all other business,” she said. After the war young men’s attire changed because their jobs called for a different style of clothing. Shore’s provided dress clothes for local residents and people appreciated it because until then shoppers had to travel to Orlando for that type of clothing. Helen Shore worked with her husband and did alterations on a pedal sewing machine. When they started a family she dedicated all her time as a mother and didn’t return to work until Suzan, Liz and Paula were in school. In 1964, Helen and her sister, Dorothy Bowman opened an additional shop in the same building known as Town and Country and specialized in women’s apparel.
When Ralph Shore passed away in 1984, his son-in-law George Cross grabbed the reigns of the men’s store and kept it on course. George began working at Shore’s at the age of 24, after marring Suzan, his high school sweetheart. George’s knack for business coupled with an outstanding personality was largely responsible for keeping Shore’s open despite slow economies and recessions and shoppers choosing to shop at malls or big box stores. George never met a stranger turning customers into friends. He was the go to guy for fitting the kids for tuxes for their proms or other big events and gladly took time to teach them how to fix their tie. He was always at the ready to help his fellow merchants or community any way he could. After George’s passing in 2015, Suzan’s sister and brother-in-law, Paula and Gary Farmer came from Alabama to help run the men’s wear store. Suzan continues to run the Town and Country all under the watchful eye of Helen Shore. Congratulations to Shore’s on 70 years of business and outstanding community service and the hopes of many more to come.