Monday, January 12, 2009

Do you get your shoes repaired?

I cleaned out my closet last weekend. I found a pair of shoes in the back that I had forgotten about. The upper had started to separate from the sole, and I had meant to take them to get repaired, but they ended up in no man's land. 

In the next town over, we have this wonderful shoe/leather repair man. He's 80 years old, speaks in broken English (I don't know where he's from), and takes so much pride in his work. Several years ago, I took him a leather handbag that had marker that bled through from inside the bag and formed a big black circle on the bag. He said he'd do what he could. When I returned to collect that bag, he told me that he had worked on it every day, but it wasn't done yet. He needed more time to do it right. I still have the bag today and I use it all the time. 

We also took him a leather jacket that our cat had put scratch marks in. Two years ago, my husband got me a cat for Christmas. I got him a leather on jacket. On Decemeber 27th, he hung the jacket on the back of a chair and our new cat used it as a scratching post. Thankfully, we still have the cat and the jacket. I'm sure our leather repair man has a lot to do with that.

Do you get your shoes repaired or do you just go out and buy new ones? Not all shoes are repairable. A pair of worn out sneakers aren't likely to get new life breathed into them. But a pair of my husband's dress shoes can look good as new with new soles and a careful polishing. 

I wonder what I'll do when my shoe guy is gone? Will I be able to find a new one? With the renewed interest in simple living and the push to reduce, renew and recycle, will someone see the value in becoming a shoe/leather repair person? It's not a craft that too many people aspire to master. I don't even know if my shoe guy has an apprentice. 

One of the ways to make sure there will always be people like my shoe guy is to use people like my shoe guy. Give him business. Help others see that there is a need for those services, and maybe others will chose to learn the craft.

Next time you've got something that can be repaired like shoes or a handbag, hunt down one of these trained craftsmen and let him do his thing instead of going out and buying something new to replace it. 
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