shoe repair

Shoe Repair It’s More Than You Think

To some, a cobbler is a lovely fruit dessert that is best served warm. To others, a cobbler repairs shoes, an almost forgotten trade.

shoe repair

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.

According to Randy Lipson, third-generation cobbler and owner of Cobblestone Shoe Repair in St. Louis, shoe repair shops nationwide report 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.

I had 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.

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.

Each year, the shoe repair industry keeps some 62 million pairs of shoes out of landfills and on consumers’ feet.

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 them.

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.

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 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?

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!




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  1. Cheryl Duft says:

    Good morning friends. I live in St. Louis. I decided to repair the soles of my new boots which was detaching with clear silicone. Have been doing this for years. It dries clear and lasts through rain and snow. Heals that fall of etc. Hope this helps.

  2. Vivian W Freppon says:

    I have to tell you my shoe repair story. I purchased designer shoes at a second hand (never worn) shop for $2.00. These shoes retailed for approx $100, so what a deal! I wore them every day all year long. I personally replaced the insoles twice and had them reheeled and resoled twice. The third time my Dad took them to a new Amish cobbler he found and the cobbler actually looked at Dad, laughed, and said “Really? I’m not sure these are worth it” My Dad thought the same thing but he just laughed as well and said that’s what I wanted so go ahead. That was the end of the end however. I wore those shoes for probably a total of 8-10 years and they were the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. It was a very sad day when I finally tossed them…..So, YES, good cobblers are definitely worth their weight!

  3. Tracey Taylor-Petsivas says:

    I totally agree with Mary’s article. I have been using our local cobbler for 30 years, I would much rather repair a good or favourite pair of shoes rather than replace them with something inferior. And I totally agree that the cobbler uses better materials than the original shoe was made from. Our cobbler has a tiny little shop that looks like its from a bygone age, but from what I can see from his shelves and from the quality of his work, he has a good trade going and I wouldnt change him for the world.

  4. CHERYL MILLER says:

    I grew up in Waterloo, Iowa and I can remember as a kid sitting in the shoe repair shop waiting for new heels or sole to be done on my shoes. It was an interesting place to be and to watch the cobbler. I did eventually find a good shoe repair shop here in the Mpls. metro area. Cheryl

  5. Gina Stevens says:

    Cobblers! Every town had one when I grew up. We also had a fix it shop to take our small appliances. I’m still not used to throw away irons, toasters and shoes. It seems so wrong.

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