Remember when shoe repair shops were the norm and people didn’t have disposable footwear? When I was a kid growing up, there were two shops in our small town. One was owned and operated by a short Greek man who had a thick accent and the other by a tall, dark, handsome fellow. The first shop was quite large and airy with windows all across the front. There was rack after rack of shoes across the back. I preferred the other shop. It was a little hole-in-the-wall space with the bare necessities. There was so little room it reeked of shoe leather and glue. The floor creaked and groaned as we went in. Lighting was at a premium but that was okay. It made it seem even more mysterious.
The taps the repairman would put on my heels made me feel special. I’d click my way across floors and sidewalks with a rhythm all my own. The condition of my mother’s bank account made fixing worn shoes mandatory as long as they fit. Her feet had quit growing but they were very wide. Because of that, she would buy cheap shoes that were too snug and take them to Mr. Stout to be stretched. I’d stand at the chin-high counter and watch, wide-eyed, as he put the stretchers in the shoes and crank them to the width she needed. Later on she’d go back and collect her shoes and pay her bill. All the while, I’d be breathing deeply and savoring the atmosphere.
Those days are gone. There are no little hometown shoe repair shops. Not around here anyway. There’s a Hakky at one of the malls an hour’s drive away but it’s a little booth sort of thing and it has no charm.
What brought all this to mind was the office Christmas party yesterday. I figured I’d dress to the nines and I put on a pair of Aerosoles that are super comfortable but I hadn’t worn them much since I shrank. Before the day was over, part of one of the heels had disintegrated. I looked online to find a place where I could get new heels and I’d have to go miles and miles to get there. Who knows if they could do it if I went? The heels turned out to be some kind of nylon rather than the stacked leather they appear to be.
This is distressing. In today’s economy, it would make more sense to fix the shoes we have rather than investing in new ones. I’m no Vivica Fox who doesn’t think twice about spending $1,300 on a pair of shoes. That’s beyond my comprehension.
There are entrepeneurs who need to open businesses. A prime example of something that’s needed is a shoe repair shop. Make them more available and people will use them. (By the way—where have all the dry cleaners gone?)
We have become a disposable society and that should stop. I’m not the person who could launch a start-up business but surely there’s someone out there with the will to make it work. Anyone for a Shoe-In?