Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Shoe Repair Shop

Shoe Repair by HolyCowboy
This morning while at the bus stop getting the kids off to school my neighbor and I started talking about shoe repair shops.  I don't remember how it started but she said, "Have you ever noticed how it's hard to find a shoe repair shop these days?" And indeed it is! I couldn't tell you where one is without doing an internet search.

Funny enough, the tv show The Mentalist recently featured the main character going into a shoe repair shop for the annual fix of his one pair of shoes. He took his shoes off and then waited. He ended up having to get a loaner pair of sneakers for the rest of the show.

I remember growing up in Connecticut and having a shoe repair shop in my town. The proprietor was an Italian immigrant and he operated from a little hole in the wall shop. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the shop anymore. Though I do remember my mother going there on many occasions to get her heels repaired. Nowadays people would be more likely to throw their shoes away rather than get them fixed.

It got me thinking - this is an example of the intersection of the present and history within our own lifetime. Something that starts out as a normal, active part of our daily lives quietly recedes in the past to be forgotten. We don't even notice it slipping away. Until one day, if we're lucky, we realize that thing is gone from our lives.

Hopefully, at that moment we realize history in the making and strive to capture it by gathering photos or stories or ephemera before all connection is lost. 

Have you ever given a thought to history in the making? Have you ever realized that you'd better capture something, whether in photos or a recording, before it's gone?

Do you know of any shoe repair shops still open near you? What else has disappeared from your life?

Food for thought on this Thursday morning!

Just a reminder that the contest is still running for another 24 hours to win an World membership for you and a friend. See details here.

Photo credit: photo by holycowboy and used under the creative commons license.


  1. Last week, I passed through South Station in Boston on the way to the bus hub. I saw a sign for the shoe repair shop there. I remembered when I regularly commuted into Boston by train that I would have my favorite boots and shoes resoled at the shop inside North Station. I wondered if that was still there, too.

    Even having shoes that can be resoled is old-fashioned. Vibram soles can be done, but I'm not sure about sneakers, Nikes, whatever.

    What about knife-sharpeners? We've lost things that our grandparents took for granted, like the rag man.

    Great posting. Made me think.

  2. An interesting train of thought Marian. I remember when Dad used to do the soles and heels at home. Whilentalking about being environmentally friendly we're still throwing repairable items in the garbage. here are several shoe repair places not far from me...interesting that's so different here in Nth Australia.

  3. There was a shoe repair shop in Derry for years and years. We used to have shoes, purses, suitcases, (you name it!) repaired there. My daughter used to like to see the cowboy boots and saddles lined up on the shelves when she was little. He closed a few years ago and misssed it very much, and now we have to go to Nashua or Manchester for shoe repairs. I recently walked into the Derry History museum and there on the counter was a large, multicolored ball of wax. The entire family shouted out "From the shoe guy!". I'm glad that my daughter (now 25) knew what it was. Future generations will see it as only a ball of wax, but to us it will always represent the little shoe shop in Derry that smelled like leather, steam heat and hot wax.

  4. I still take my hiking boots to a shoe repair shop! Unfortunately of all the shoes I own, that is the only one that can be repaired. Modern shoes have such different construction, soles, materials and stitching that shoe repair shops won't touch them.

  5. I worked part-time at a shoe shop back in the 80's! The owners have since retired and the shop is closed because they could not find a buyer. The closing was in the local paper because the shop had been open for so long. But it is no more, unfortunately.

  6. My husband used to take his military boots to be resoled. But the man retired and closed up his shop a couple of years ago. I wonder if current military boots can even be repaired today? I am not sure I have any shoes that could be fixed. Sad!


  7. I commute daily from Connecticut to NYC. I can't think of any shoe repair places near my home in Connecticut, but in NYC they are a bit more common. There are several shoe repair spots right at Grand Central Terminal, where they also have polishing stations set up. I use them often, and been surprised at just what they've been able to repair. There is also a man who comes in a few times a week to my office building. He'll come pick up your shoes to be repaired, and bring them back to you in a day or two.

  8. We have a shoe repair shop as a neighbour, just two doors away, here in Chipping Sodbury. As well as doing excellent shoe repairs, the owner does key cutting, lock repairs and engraving. He also sells useful items like batteries, slippers and suitcases and takes in parcel deliveries for us. He is a local treasure. One of the advantages of living in a small market town, I guess.

  9. There's a shoe repair place in my parents' small town - I don't know how he stays open, as all of his repairs seem to cost $6. (Maybe if I had nicer shoes, it would be a more expensive repair?) Now living in NYC, there are plenty of places to get shoes repaired. I have a pair of boots I've been meaning to take to the one near my home for a couple of weeks now . . . I should get on that!

  10. Wow, Marian, I didn't know you grew up in CT! What town? We're in Fairfield, and we used to have several shoe repair shops during our stay here (40 years). Now we're down to one. Tailor and dressmaker shops are also fading into the past, as are sewing centers. When we first moved here, you could buy cloth and patterns and sewing notions at several stores, which have now disappeared. If you want a hem altered or a blouse stitched back together, you have to ask the dry cleaners. Near here, in Westport, they do have a quality tailor's. But for how long?

    One more point. We're a throw-away society now, alas. Waste, pollution. CT is starting a "zero waste" program, I read (too many toxic incinerators), and I'll bet repair shops for appliances, shoes, dresses, and whatever else will re-appear. I surely hope so!

  11. There is a shoe repair shop in Centrailia, MO. We have used them for several leather repair needs, not just shoes.

  12. Growing up, our neighbor down the street had a shoe repair in his basement. When we would get a new pair of shoes they would go there to have cleats put on the heels to make them last. But they would find their way back to be re-heeled or soles. Where I live now there is a weekend market with many shops, one of them is a shoe repair. It always seems very busy when I go by and It always reminds me of the shop of my childhood.

  13. I use to always bring my shoes to a shoe shop to be replaced. I alwasy found even then that most were in bigger cities. I remember having to bring shoes with me on the train to Boston if I wanted them repaired. A couple of years ago I found out about a shoe repain place in Nashua because I had boots I really liked and wanted the heals replaced. I don't remember if I just called or brought them in but it would have more to fix then replace and they were not even sure they could fix them. They don't make things like they use to.