I never realized what a convenience it was, to have a shoe repair shop in my neighborhood, until Sole Man opened up. Before that, I would occasionally go to North Buffalo to have rubber treads applied to the bottom of my vintage slick soled shoes, but that was about it. It was only when Sole Man came to Elmwood, that I realized just how many different repair options their were when it comes to giving shoes new leases on life, from different types of soles, including a seemingly limitless number of sole styles to choose from.
About a month ago, the soles of my favorite pair of Timberland boots crapped out, and water began to leek inside one of the boots. Honestly, these boots were like old friends and I couldn’t bear to chuck them. So I decided to throw them in a bag, to see if Sole Man could save the day. But before I headed over to Sole Man, I took a look at the rest of my shoes, in case there were others that needed some love. And yes, I realized that a number of pairs were looking like they were at the end of the line.
In the end, I had half a dozen pairs of shoes ready to be renewed. I knew that Sole Man owner Brian Gavigan would be able to replace the worn out soles, or apply no-slip rubber pads to protect the soles from further wear and tear, but I was not sure if there was any hope for the Timberlands. Brian, and his assistant Monika Pavlikova, began to pull the shoes out of my bag, while going over each one with a fine tooth comb. A couple of pairs, they decided, would have to be resoled completely. Then, a couple of others would benefit from applying Cat Paws (durable rubber heals and soles that add life and provide better grip). And finally, Brian told me that the Timberlands could be saved. Not only did he say that he could give them another life, he took a look at the boots and said that they just don’t make them like this anymore.
When I do get some time to go thrifting, I occasionally come across some killer shoes that actually fit. By the time I get a hold of them, they are usually already pretty well worn, which means that it’s important to have a cobbler that can save the day. Unfortunately, over the years, there have been fewer and fewer shoe repair shops because there are a lot of cheap shoes being cranked out. Our throw-away culture means that it’s easier to go out and just buy another pair of shoes. Personally, I’d rather spend a couple more bucks on a nice pair of shoes (vintage or brand new), because I know that their lives can be extended with the help of a shoe repair person.
Thankfully, these days we are seeing old world services and products rebounding, such as record stores, barber shops, butchers, and cobblers. The way I look at it, Sole Man saved me a lot of money by restoring my favorite shoes and boots. Instead of going out and buying new shoes, I got extended lives on the ones that I have already broken in, that fit my feet like gloves.
When I was younger, I never stopped to think about how invaluable and irreplaceable these types of artisan services were, until they became a dying art. To me, it’s just as important to give Sole Man my business as it is to have my favorite shoes back in my closet, looking close to brand new.
To learn more about the goods and services at Sole Man, click here.