Vendor started ‘shoes empire’ with 6 pairs of footwear, neighbours recall

Many pictures have been painted of the late shoes vendor Zachariah Brown, but the most vivid is perhaps that of him initially walking through many rural communities with shoes tied around his neck, and a carton box of various footwear nestled atop his head.

Brown, who is also called Jill and Shoey, died in hospital as a result of a motor vehicle crash that unfolded on November 21 at Guanaboa Vale in St. Catherine.

The 70-year-old was showered with glowing tributes and remembrances during a thanksgiving service held at the Church of God of Prophesy in his hometown of Point Hill, St. Catherine.

The congregation was told that Brown, after leaving primary school in Point Hill, did odd jobs around his community to take care of himself.

He later became employed to state-owned entities, including the Public Works Department, which later was renamed the National Works Agency.

His neighbours for some 40 years, Labert and Dorene Facey, in a tribute, recalled: “As a young person, Jill went through many struggles, but he was determined and most times – like a good soldier – he came up on the winning side.”

The neighbours added that Brown started to build his ‘shoes empire’ about 25 years ago.

They added: “As a young entrepreneur, Jill started out with six pairs of shoes; the business grew until he had more than 100 pairs of shoes.”

Brown, over the years, sold various types and sizes of footwear at his home and in the streets of Point Hill and Lluidas Vale in St Catherine, as well as Kellits in Clarendon.

After beating the pavements for years, Brown purchased a Honda 50 motor bike.

He used the motorcycle to do businesses; he also used it to transport his wife and their four children – including a step-child.

Brown later purchased motorcars, which he did not re-sell whenever they developed mechanical problems. “He parked them and bought new ones,” the neighbours disclosed.

They further stated that Brown also did farming, which he relied on whenever the shoes business was slow.

Brown got married on 4 January 1991, and was baptized a week later.

He recently acquired a United States visa, his neighbours told mourners. They added: “Jill was hardworking, respectful, respectable, and would go the entire mile for his family and friends.”

Brown was interred at Dovecot Memorial Park.

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