This is what a new store owner has to say.
I got into the shoe repair business on the recommendation of a friend after I lost my job of 23 years.
Another friend of mine agreed to train me for a while. She gave me about 45 days training, then started my own shop.
I don’t recommend starting a shop with such little training. I did it only because I had no other options.
Even though I have always had a strong work ethic and like to work with my hands, the 2 1/2 years since I started have
been the most tiring and frustrating years of my life. I have found patience that I never knew I had.
Despite working 70-80 hours a week and have had to, in large part, learn the trade as I went along, I love the work.
I enjoy the interaction with the public. I enjoy making worn-out shoes serviceable and good looking again. I enjoy the
every day challenge of trying to repair the myriad other items brought for some TLC.
The shoe repair trade is also largely art. I never knew I had any desire or inclination for “art” but I do. Another interesting
aspect of being in the business is how it has taught me how to look at every day items differently. I don’t look
at shoes, or luggage, or coats, or the like in the same way I did before.
For someone considering getting into the business I would recommend the following
- Get the proper training from someone who loves the work
- Keep a curiosity about how things can be repaired
- Commit to working the hours needed
- Never take a job just for the money, but don’t take money-losing work either
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advise from other cobblers or suppliers
- Get to know the other cobblers in your area and view them as friends rather than competitors
- Have at least two suppliers and get to know them personally – they can be a great help to new people in the trade
- Getting into the business is expensive – don’t buy what you don’t need
- Love your work