Monday, September 14, 2015

The shoe repair post that you've been waiting for



For rent signs arrived Friday at the former A.K. Shoe Repair on East Ninth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

The shop closed at the end of August. The proprietor told DNAinfo that his rent went from $2,000 to $4,500. Coupled with other expenses, he said that he couldn't make the business work any longer.

At the end of July, Alex Shoe Repair closed on Second Avenue between East Third Street and East Fourth Street. The owner was paying $4,000 a month in rent. The new asking rent from Icon Realty is $14,000.

Other neighborhood cobblers to close in recent years include David's Shoe Store on East Seventh Street and A. Fontana Shoe Repair on East 10th Street ... while East Village Shoe Repair closed on St. Mark's Place, only to relocate to Bushwick.

Here's DNAinfo with an explanation for the cobbler closures:

Across the city, experienced cobblers are closing the doors of their small businesses as they see their rents rise, potential customers buying new shoes rather than repairing old ones, and a dearth of apprentices interested in learning their trade.

As for who's left in the East Village, we counted four, including two shops with Alex in the title (neither are related to the Alex who closed on Second Avenue…)



Alex Shoe Repair, 99 Avenue C between East Seventh Street and East Sixth Street…

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Alex Shoe and Watch Repair (and barber shop!), 71 First Ave. between East Fifth Street and East Fourth Street…

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Firm Shoe Repair, 116 Fourth Ave. at East 12th Street…

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Steve's Express Shoe Repair, 311 E. 14th St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue…

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Ugh… forgot this one...



14th Street Shoe Repair Shop, 428 E. 14th St. between Avenue A and First Avenue…

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And there are a few shops on the periphery of the neighborhood, such as Star Shoe & Watch Repair at 74 Bleecker between Crosby and Broadway … and John’s Shoe Repair at 30 Irving Place between East 15th Street and East 16th Street.

I'd take my business to John's when I worked nearby. Once, I brought in a pair of shoes that another shop kinda screwed up. The proprietor looked at the shoes, and with a great deal of disgust, said, "The person who did this wasn't a cobbler." He paused. "He was a butcher."

26 comments:

equilibrist said...

There's also a place at 4th avenue and, I think, 11th or 12th street, on the southwest corner. I've only had watches fixed there so I can't speak to the quality of their shoe repair.

Anonymous said...

Well, I love Steve Express. He does excellent work. I just dropped another pair off to him this morning. The turnarounds are one day for basic jobs. Even boot calf stretching only takes one day, although if you're going to do that, go now before the fall rush!

I've been going to Steve since 2000 and will continue to go until I no longer live here.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised there are this many. 4 on the immediate area and at least 7 within walking distance.

Anonymous said...

I've had countless shoes repaired by Alex on First and 4th/5th. They do a great job and are nice people. I hope they stay in the hood.

Anonymous said...

I got a pair of soles replaced recently and a young friend of mine didn't get why I didn't toss the shoes and buy a new pair. I guess that's the attitude today in a world that supplies cheap footwear.

Anonymous said...

Due to "fast fashion" and the overall availability of cheap show (and clothes) cobblers are in a trade which is slowly becoming obsolete, at least for the middle class. People with money buy expensive shoes and are more likely spend $40 to resole a pair of $600 shoes. Like tailors, if you are not serving the high end then there is little work for you. The sad thing about what is happening in NY is that many of these businesses could continue and the owners who are usually the person doing the work, are being crushed by greedy landlords rather than so called progress. A neighborhood should be less attractive to future residents with necessary services disappearing everyday but alas there is no stopping the influx of people that want nothing more than sports bars, over price foodie restaurants and Starbucks. Grieve......

Anonymous said...

I routinely spend $35 to get my shoes protective soled (not even RE-soled) and I can assure you that I have never spent $600 on a pair of shoes. I may occasionally spend $250 on a designer resale pair, but this idea that shoe repair only serves the "high end" is ridiculous. Shoe repair serves people who buy DECENT shoes and don't like to throw them away. It serves people who invest in their clothing and take great care in it. I agree that fast fashion is creating a generation of disposable crap not worth repairing, but the people keeping shoe repair alive are not a bunch of elitists.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there are so many abandoned shoes in the EV is because the repair shoppes have closed...

Anonymous said...

14K for that space?! short of drugs, I can't imagine anything her that's gonna bring in enough profit to cover that.

Makeout said...

Great. Now where am I going to get my shoe phone fixed?

Unknown said...

I love the dude on Delancey and Clinton--Rainbow Shoe? Youngish Russian dude, closed Saturdays.

He also took our passport photos.

Anonymous said...

@11:14 AM

Soon that $35 shoe repair will be $90, this what a cobbler will need to charge if they plan on paying this new batch of greed-lords rent demands. Products and services which work on a large scale can pay high rent, shoe repair, or any other repair service is being forced out of the city because they cannot charge what is necessary to cover their rent and expenses. To call someone "elitist" because they can buy shoes that cost more than you care to spend is a bit classist.

11:14 a.m. said...

"To call someone 'elitist' because they can buy shoes that cost more than you care to spend is a bit classist."

You're not even making sense.

I spend more on shoes AND shoe repair than you'll ever know. It will never cost $90 in our lifetimes to resole a fucking shoe. You probably don't even regularly frequent a cobbler yourself, so maybe sit down.

nygrump said...

I like to get the little tabs nailed into the heels giving the heels months of extra life. You get you $300 shoes resoled a couple times and you've already saved the price of new junk shoes, never mind the comfort, which you do get when you pay for it. Surprised me.

Anonymous said...

Was also going to throw in for Rainbow Shoe Repair. That's where I have been going lately. Good work good price.

Anonymous said...

Ok everybody! Put your money where your mouth is: I'm going to go get a cup of coffee from Mud right now. Stop in at First Flight (to say goodbye :( and get a Snark). Check my PO box at Village Postal... Then before the day is over I'm going to find a way to spend 10 bucks on another local biz. No Starbuck$, no Walgreens, no KMart.

And somehow, maybe I purchased a couple of bad pairs a decade ago - maybe it's because I'm a dancer - I haven't bought a new pair of shoes in years. When they're used you know exactly how comfy they'll be when they break in. I just wash the insides and the sole - add a new insole... And I just kept taking them to A.K. Shoe Repair for refurbishing.

Also old belts to add new holes.

Gonna miss them!!

Anonymous said...

Unlike Anonymous 3:38, I don't think spending money is the way to show my community spirit. That said, it's pretty clear that there are too many shoe repair stores in the area.

Anonymous said...

nygrump, Nails in your heels is fine if you don't mind scarring your floor.

Trixie said...

I go to the place on e 14th Street between Avenue A and First Ave, by the old Post Office. I forget the name, but they've been there for years and do good work.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:54 PM
You're confusing "community spirit" with "local business spirit".
They are related, but they're not the same thing.

IzF said...

Rainbow on Delancey!!! He does a great job!

Anonymous said...

@2:13 PM

Read my post again. If a cooler had overhead of $10-12-14 thousand per month as some landlords are now asking how much would that cobbler have to charge to resole a pair of shoes to beak even? It's math but in reality nobody would pay $90 to have that kind of work done therefore a cobbler would shut down their business knowing his options are through.

I just had a pair of shoes re-soled on 14th street. I also run my own business and think about cost, overhead and profit everyday.

Anonymous said...

so sad...i really liked this little place, and i fear for the hardware store. nyc was so different from other cities, now you look around and you could be anywhere...

just a suggestion: they did post phone numbers at which we can "call owner"...perhaps we should!

Scuba Diva said...

Although I frequented A.K.—they were previously called O.K. Shoe Repair, owned by Asians who sold the business to the Uzbekistanis who closed it—because I put taps on almost all my shoes to keep them from wearing down so fast, I did find certain other shoe repair businesses do particular things better than others:

To take your cowboy boots, and particularly to get your shoes stretched, go to Cowboy Boot Hospital at 396 Broome Street. My left foot is wider than my right, and I have to stretch most of my left shoes to make them fit. (He'll also stretch your new shoes to give them that "broken-in" feel.) He's also a wizard with cowboy boots, of course.

And by the way: I don't know if anyone remembers when the Uzbekistanis took over A.K. Shoe Repair, but they pretty much learned the business from scratch. It's like they bought the store and then decided to learn to repair shoes. (And learned English while they were at it.) They did get up to speed pretty fast, but it seemed to me they went to the seat-of-your-pants school.)

Lastly, anyone saying, "Nobody really uses shoe repairmen anymore now that shoes are all injection-molded in China," has never had to have lifts built on their shoes or other specialty services. (Many years ago, I had to have a half-inch lift built on all my left shoes, and boy was that a drag. At that time, there were two shoe repairmen on 7th street: David and Walter.) There are still a lot of people who have "special needs" for their shoes and also would rather keep repairing them than have to throw them away and buy new ones.

Anonymous said...

Is the solution not obvious here? Alex should take over the former AK space?

Anonymous said...

Uh yes they are Captain 1 percent. As you put it ' It serves people who invest in their clothing and take great care in it'. Spoken like a true elitist douchebag.