If the shoe fits, get it fixed
Suddenly, shoe repair is coming back. Big time.
Sales of luxury goods are down, but it's a flush time for people who repair them. High-end cobblers, tailors and jewelers have seen a spike in repair business from frugal customers, thanks to a trend toward fixing goods rather than replacing them. We're quickly moving from a disposable society to one that's learning to mend and repair.
Shoe repair shops nationwide, of which there are only about 7,500 remaining — down by half from a decade ago, are reporting a 20 to 45 percent surge in business. Things are beginning to shift as consumers are learning to make do. And for many, that means getting shoes that fit, fixed.
Footwear isn't just part of your wardrobe, it is an investment. Spend your money wisely and the return will be more value for your dollar, more comfort, better foot health and even a sense that you are helping the environment.
How do you know if shoes are worth repairing? If they were cheap to start with that doesn't necessarily mean you should throw them away once they are worn beyond reason.
Think comfort. If the shoes fit well, you're probably better off repairing them than replacing. The materials used these days to repair shoes are usually three to four times better quality than the original materials in the shoe. And cobblers use the very same materials to repair a $50 pair of shoes as a $325 pair. Once repaired, they really will be better than new. Shoe repair shops take in all kinds of shoes and boots, even Birkenstocks.
To determine if a repair shop is any good, ask to see an example of their work. A good cobbler is proud of the work he or she does. There should be lots of shoes waiting to be picked up that you can inspect.
Typical shoe repairs include new heels and soles both for men's and women's shoes. Complete recondition includes repairing torn or weakened areas, replacing components that are worn out and bringing those shoes back to their glory.
DPL: Can you do anything to restore the color and finish?
Provided the shoes are made of leather, a good repairperson can do amazing things to restore the shoes' color and finish. And they do more than just apply shoe polish. A good repair service will do the equivalent of stripping the paint from a fine piece of furniture and then completely refinishing it. That means removing the top layers, and then reconditioning the leather, re-staining and returning those shoes to new condition.
A simple repair like new heels can run around $20, depending on the area where the shop is located. A complete recondition can run as high as $100. But if we're talking about a $300 pair of shoes, that's a great value because it means another 10 or 15 years for those shoes. When you think of "cost per wear," repairing shoes rather than replacing them becomes a great value. They're even better than new.