Thinking of Opening a Shoe Repair Shop?
Dana Huval, Huval's Boot and Shoe Repair,
Do you know someone who
wants to start a new career? Shoe repair seems to be the
buzz right now. With the decline in the economy, shoe
repair is getting a lot of nationally-welcomed media
First thing to think about
is a great location. Strip malls or buildings in a busy
area would be a plus. Look for a strip mall with lots of
high traffic. They could house a donut shop, coffee
shop, restaurant, post office/mailing store or even a
hair salon. The key is to find a location that already
gets a lot of foot traffic.
Once you find a great
location, check out the leasing plan. That could protect
you from the rent going up without a lease.
As far the business side of
it, a business plan is a great tool. It will help you do
research about your new adventure. Check with your local
college, chamber of commerce or even a technical school.
They could offer you help with your business plan. If
you will need bank financing, your business plan will be
a advantage for you to have. Your banker will know you
have done your homework.
What about training? Do you
know how to fix shoes, boots, purses and belts? If not,
you might want to team up with a repairer in your area
to learn these things. Hopefully you will have the
ability to do the repair work before you open a shop,
unless you are planning to hire a cobbler.
If you need training, there
are a few people who can train you in their shops.
Remember there will be a charge for this service.
If you are lucky enough to
get training from someone in your area, find out if the
cobbler might want to retire soon. Buying out their shop
would be a great investment. They will already have a
loyal clientele and with you working in the shop, these
customers will be familiar with you.
You have many options with
this business. My business life has been interesting. My
father was a life-long repairer. He opened a huge
western store in 1970 he opened a huge western store
where he also had a shoe repair shop and also repaired
saddles. (This is also my current location) He later
passed away in 1987 (he was 50 by one week). My sister
and I ran the business until December 1993. At that time
she wanted another career, so we closed the business my
father had. The following January, I opened a small shoe
repair shop in the front portion of our building. I had
seen how challenging the western business was and I
wanted no part of it.
Machinery was a vital part
of the business. My father purchased a new Singer patch
machine in 1984 and everything else was older than I
was. I started slowly by purchasing a rebuilt curve
needle-outsole stitcher. Years later I bought a press,
second hand finisher, fume buster, a few Sure Foot heels
presses and just recently added a heat lamp and I have
an order in for a heel popper. The heel popper is an
inexpensive older machine, but my friends tell me I
really need it. The next item on my wish list is a Clase
sewing machine. Slowly I have added piece by piece the
machines that help me do better work, and I am grateful
to have each and ever one of them. If you are lucky
enough to buy out an existing shop, you are already
ahead by having the needed machinery with the purchase.
What will you name your
shop? My experience is, keep it simple and easy to
remember. My dad’s business was Cliff’s Western Wear and
Shoe Repair. I thought it would be best to name my
little shoe repair shop after my family’s last name.
Well that just confused everyone.
Still today, 22 years later,
the general public still thinks it’s a new owner not
associated with my dad’s business. If I thought about it
more, I could have made it easier by naming the shop
after the street it’s located on – Parkerson Shoe
Repair, the city’s name – Crowley’s Shoe Repair, or even
Rice Capital Shoe Repair. (Crowley is the rice capitol
of the world.)
You want to make it as easy
for your customers to find you in the phone book or
online with the yellow pages. Family names are sometimes
hard to remember. I do have some friends who named their
shops Cobblestone Shoe Repair, Shoe Hospital and I have
even heard of the Cobbler Bench. Shoe Repair Station
would be a clever name to have. Long difficult names
might not be the best way to go, try to keep it as
simple as possible. Just keep in mind, adding shoe
repair to your shop name will immediately let people
know what type of business you have.
This would also be a great
time to have a logo created. I traded repair work for my
logo with a local graphic designer and I plaster it
everywhere I can. My aprons and shirts that are worn in
the shop have them embroidered on them. Sure it’s added
expense, but it is also a great form of advertising. One
Christmas I gave all of my friends an apron with my logo
and their name front and center of the apron. The great
thing about that, they all have them hanging in their
kitchen, which gives me visibility to all of their
company just by giving them an apron. Don’t be afraid to
have this done by a professional. My friend would have
charged me $100 for the logo and it would have been
worth every penny.