Gino Gentile
2006 Grand Silver Cup Winner

Gino Gentile (center) won SSIA’s 2006 Grand Silver Cup. Here, he celebrates with previous Silver Cup winners Chuck Bolinger, Robert DiRinaldo, Larry Schupbach and Jim McFarland.

“I feel great! I feel accomplished. This is a major achievement for me,” exclaimed Gino Gentile after winning SSIA’s 2006 Grand Silver Cup. The cup was the pinnacle of five years of contest work and a lifetime of shoe repair experience for the second-generation craftsman.

Gentile operates Anthony’s Shoe Service in San Francisco, Calif. His father purchased the business in 1966 and Gino has worked in the business since he was young.

“My father just put me right into it,” he said. “I started doing heels when I was 12.”

Anthony’s employs five people working on shoes and three in the front of the store. Located in San Francisco’s Union Square, the shop’s hard-earned reputation for quality work keeps them very busy.

“We’re in a busy area surrounded by high quality retailers, so we don’t have any problems getting business,” Gino says. “Our challenge is keeping up with people’s demands and doing the work in a timely fashion with the detail our customers expect. That always takes more time. In a high volume shop, that can be a challenge.”

Gentile is active both in repairing shoes and working the counter every day.

“I can never get enough of fixing shoes,” he said enthusiastically. “But sales at the front is the key. You have to make sure the customers know what they want.”

A key to maximizing those sales is the new point-of-sale computer system Gentile recently installed at Anthony’s.

“My sales have increased between 10 and 20 percent just from putting in a POS system,” he said. “It’s all about the details. When you go over the shoe, you put it in the computer and there’s a price for the details — fix a scuff, a little extra color — everything has a little charge.”

Gentile added the POS system makes Anthony’s look more professional than the hand written tickets they used for the previous 40 years. It also helps him better serve his customers.

“You have a point of reference. When your item is put away, you give it a location and, when customers call to see if it is ready, you can answer them immediately, without scurrying around the whole place,” he said.

It took six months to get the system installed and running properly. Though it may not take as long for a smaller shop, Gentile counseled patience.

“It takes some time to get used to. You need to work closely with the company and it can be frustrating,” he said. “In the end, though, it’s worth it.”

When he’s working in the repair end, Gentile says his customers’ shoes get the same attention as his Silver Cup entries. He recommends quality materials and well built shoes for future entrants.

“Use shoes that are well built but in need of repair,” he says. “Look at Goodwill, the Salvation Army or second-hand stores. Oftentimes, you’ll find good contest shoes there. Starting with good shoes is the most important thing.”

When asked what the judges look for, Gentile once again stressed the details. The judges have a very detailed scoresheet which is available to contestants. Check the details the judges will be evaluating and pay attention to them when you’re doing the work.

Gentile’s Silver Cup is proudly displayed in his front window where it makes his customers that much more comfortable they’ll be getting a quality job at Anthony’s. He also has interviews scheduled with the media to discuss his success. He’s quick to point out that the resulting coverage will help not just Anthony’s, but shoe repair as a whole.

In summing up his Silver Cup success, Gentile says, “Anything is possible. It just takes time, effort and patience.”