shoe repair cobbler fixing man's shoe

A Shoemaker Can Save Your Sole

To some people, a cobbler is a lovely fruit dessert, best served warm. To others, it is a shoemaker who repairs shoes—an almost forgotten trade.

The Shoe Service Institute of America reports that shoe repair shops have dwindled from 100,000 in the 1930s to 15,000 in 1997 to about 5,000 today. The industry may be facing extinction, but business is booming for the cobblers who remain.

 

shoe repair replacing shoe sole

 

According to Randy Lipson, third-generation cobbler and owner of Cobblestone Shoe Repair in St. Louis, shoe repair shops nationwide are reporting a 20 to 45 percent surge in business. Things are beginning to shift as consumers are learning to make do. And for many, that means getting shoes that fit, fixed.

Not long ago I grabbed the opportunity to sit down with Randy and I learned a lot—not only about the value of repairing rather than replacing shoes but also that a shoe repair shop does more than just repair shoes.

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Why should we use shoe repair?

Footwear isn’t just part of your wardrobe, it is an investment. Spend your money wisely and the return will be more value for your dollar, more comfort, better foot health, and even a sense that you are helping the environment.

How do we know if shoes are worth repairing?

Think comfort. If the shoes fit well, you’re probably better off repairing them than replacing. The materials we use to repair shoes are usually three to four times better quality than the original materials in the shoe. And we use the very same materials to repair a $50 pair of shoes as a $450 pair. Once repaired, they really will be better than new. We repair all kinds of shoes and boots, even Birkenstocks.

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How can we know if a shoe repair shop is any good?

Ask to see an example of their work. A good cobbler is proud of the work he or she does. There should be lots of shoes waiting to be picked up that you can inspect.

What are the typical shoe repairs?

New heels and soles are what we do most, both for men’s and women’s shoes. And we do a complete recondition that includes repairing torn or weakened areas, replacing components that are worn out and bringing those shoes back to their glory.

Can you do anything to restore the color and finish?

Provided the shoes are made of leather we can do wonders. And we do more than just apply shoe polish. What we do is similar to stripping the paint from a fine piece of furniture then completely refinishing it. We remove the top layers, then recondition the leather, re-stain and return it to new condition.



What does something like that cost?

A simple repair like new heels can run around $20, depending on the area where the shop is located. A complete recondition can run as high as $100. But if we’re talking about a $300 pair of shoes, that’s a great value because it means another 10 or 15 years for those shoes. When you think of “cost per wear,” repairing shoes rather than replacing them becomes a great value. They’re even better than new.

Other than shoes, what items do you repair?

We offer repairs on handbags, luggage, dog collars, belts (we shorten belts all the time, in a way that cannot be detected), saddles and bridles, too. If you have anything made of leather that needs some TLC, take it to a shoe repair shop.

 

Where can we find reputable shoe repair shops in our local areas?

RL: You can find a national store locator at the Shoe Service Institute of America website. Just type in your location and you’ll be on your way!

GOOD READ: Why shoe cobblers are smarter than bankers

Question: Do you know of a great shoe repair shop? Tell us about it! Give a shout out to your friendly neighborhood cobbler!

 

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12 replies
  1. Mary
    Mary says:

    I grew up taking my dad’s boots to the shoe store for repair. Andy’s shoe repair in Colorado Springs is where we have gone for years. Jody is great!! She has repaired my husband’s leather brief case, his leather coat. My leather slippers, and purses.

    Reply
    • Linda Radosevich
      Linda Radosevich says:

      City Electric in Gallup, New Mexico is my go-to shoe and leather repair place. I drive 3 hours one way to take my shoes to them!

      Reply
  2. Patricia Lavenz
    Patricia Lavenz says:

    I remember there was one in every town in Germany growing up. We always had our shoes repaired. It was cheaper than buying new. Now it is cheaper to buy new but we still repair our shoes if possible. I hate waste. My brother just gorilla glued his sole back on (he clamped it to ensure it stayed until it was dry) his favorite shoes. I am not sure that we have any in our area anymore but we did a few years ago.

    Reply
  3. Jan
    Jan says:

    I live in Arlington and have traveled 45 miles one way for over 10 years to have all of my shoes repaired at The Cobbler, 5959 Royal Lane, Dallas, TX. The are the best shoe repair in Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

    Reply
  4. rosemary freitas
    rosemary freitas says:

    Great shoe repair in Brighton Michigan. It is named The Shoe Store and Shoe Repair at 5757 Whitmore Lake road. (810) 225-6244. They have done great work for me, complete new heels and soles on boots. Best kept secret in Michigan.

    Reply
  5. Karen
    Karen says:

    We’ve gone to Hakky Shoe Repair in Greenwood Mall, Greenwood, IN for years. He’s the only one around, but does good work.

    Reply
  6. Kate
    Kate says:

    Until the culture in this country changes from replace to upkeep of items I will not set foot in another clothing altering business or shoe repair business because what these businesses charge far exceeds what I pay to replace the item. I do not wear expensive clothing or shoes and it makes no sense the fix it when I can buy a new item for less. I have untold numbers of coats and sweaters which need a zipper replaced and after checking a few places I left disgusted and am holding the items to recycle.

    Reply
  7. Jackie
    Jackie says:

    I tried a reputable cobbler several years ago to resole a pair of very nice loafers. They just weren’t the same after, and I haven’t tried again.

    Maybe I should?

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt
      Mary Hunt says:

      Yes you should! As a consumer you have every reason to expect and demand satisfactory service. It’s probably too late now, but in the future if that were to happen, I’d take the shoes back to have them refitted. I’m guessing the new heel or sole was of a different height or thickness than original. That can we filed/cut down and then resurfaced. I sound like a seasoned cobbler, right? Ha! I’m not but I’ve used the services plenty over the years. Experience is a very good teacher, which I’m sure you have learned as well. I wouldn’t rate all cobblers on the experience you had with just one.

      Reply
  8. Norma Oren
    Norma Oren says:

    My nephew, Naif Risk is a cobbler in Sherman Texas. The business is Risk Shoe Repair. This has been a family business for over 90 years started by his grandfather. His #is work-903 892-2238. Mobile-903-818-6589.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt
      Mary Hunt says:

      People in Sherman Texas … go see Naif! Tell him he’s famous now that his phone numbers appear at EverydayCheapskate.com, compliments of his Aunt Norma.

      Reply
  9. Joanne
    Joanne says:

    The local cobbler repaired some suede black pumps of mine. They were absolutely lovely by the time he was done. Only $20. Thank you for recommending shoe repair.

    Reply

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