Gillespie Shoes was the predecessor to Peterson Shoes. Founded in 1861, it had been the longest running shoe store at one location in the state of Minnesota. Fire destroyed downtown Anoka in 1884, and Gillespie rebuilt. In 1938 when the Anoka County Union reported Gillespie’s was closing, Mel and Estelle Peterson purchased the store with funds obtained by Mel’s parents mortgaging their home. There was already a connection to Gillespie’s as Mel’s father, Andy, had worked for Gillespie as a shoemaker.