We learned all about planned obsolescence in elementary school, but in this time of recession it’s not a bad idea to think in terms of repair rather than “brand new” when it comes to replacing certain things – like boots and shoes.
On one of my recent trips down Hertel Avenue, I remembered a pair of favorite 20-year-old boots that were in my trunk as I drove by Jimmie’s Shoe Repair. The tops were beaten to slipper-like butter, but the soles were long gone. I turned around, went into Jimmie’s, and asked if he could help.
It should be noted that owner Jimmie’s real name is Joseph Bavisotto, as was his owner/father’s before him. The elder Joseph bought the business from the original Jimmie at 1516 Hertel, and moved it to its present location in 1959, never changing the name. Joseph says he’s been answering to “Jimmie” ever since.
Though Joseph says his customers prefer Vibram soles (see sign above) he agreed to restore my boots with their original leather. Back in my college days of walking the endless UB campuses, I used to be good for once a year retreads, so this was not an unfamiliar transaction for me. Boot-wise, nothing beats the character and feel of worn-in uppers with a new, solid walking surface.
One week later, when I went back to get the favorite boots, they were beautiful! I was delighted with their new soles. At 28 bucks (about what I paid 2 decades ago) this was the best bargain I’ve had in a long while. The soles were a nice thick leather, which I immediately scuffed on the sidewalk for extra traction, and off I went. Cushioned on the bottom and soft on the top, what more could you ask for?
I’ve got boxes full of Freys and Dingos and all sorts of back-in-style, once-cherished boots along with some shoes – all of which will be making their way to Jimmie’s for repair in the near future. I imagine there are those of you out there with high-priced designer shoes that could use a lift. At Jimmie’s prices, you wouldn’t have much to lose by having them resoled and reconditioned, and according to this article on syracuse.com and this one from the Wisconsin State Journal, you wouldn’t be alone. The new trend in shoes this season seems to be repair.
Jimmie’s is good for shoe repair, as well as a history lesson on Hertel Avenue’s evolution through the years. The one big regret Joseph has is that the lit-up marque (probably made by Flexlume) on the original store wouldn’t fit the front of the new, smaller shop. If anyone has a picture, we’d love to see it.
Jimmie’s Shoe Repair
1530 Hertel Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14216