‘Mr. Downtown’s shoe shop back in business
By cathy mckitrick
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Mar 21 2012 05:51PM
The Oxford Shop at 65 W. 100 South — a small storefront with big history — will reopen for business on Thursday in tandem with the glitzy grand opening of the 23-acre City Creek Center just across the street.
This is the way its longtime owner, Richard Wirick, would have wanted it. At 82 — after more than 60 years selling shoes — the man known to many as "Mr. Downtown" was still going strong.
"He was going to have this open until he was 90 and then just shut it down," said Gunter Radinger, Wirick’s brother-in-law. Sadly, it didn’t work out that way.
On Feb. 21, Wirick was run over by a Utah Transit Authority bus, an accident that abruptly took his life. This week, Radinger and his wife, Carol, with help from another relative, Christell Farnsworth, busily cleaned, organized and readied the Oxford Shop for Thursday’s crowds.
"We’ll keep it going for him," said Carol Radinger. The couple recently purchased the Oxford Shop and intend to carry on Wirick’s tradition.
For several decades Wirick served customers — and made friends — in his long-lived Oxford Shop, all the while trumpeting the value of a robust urban core. The past four years of City Creek construction took its toll, slowing foot traffic past his store to a trickle.
But Wirick remained optimistic, eagerly anticipating City Creek’s opening.
"He was so well-known and so well-liked in this city," Gunter Radinger said, "that to just have the whole thing go away was not right."
Wirick had been married to Gunter Radinger’s sister, Esther Radinger, his companion of 40 years.
Esther Radinger died in 2009 after a long career as assistant director of the University of Utah’s Honors Program.
Until 2010, Gunter and Carol Radinger owned and operated Fendall’s Ice Cream Co. at 470 S. 700 East. The couple also teach evening English classes.
Both share Wirick’s hopes of a revitalized downtown.
"We want it to become a place to walk again, with people on the streets," Gunter Radinger said. "This City Creek Center is going to be a big help toward that."