Archive for Care of shoes

Shoe repair isn’t a load of cobblers in a recession

Right, so, we have a recession in full swing (which the US admits has actually been in full swing for a year now), Christmas spending is down, retailers are panicking and even the motor industry, which is one of the most powerful in the world, is in line for a bailout. Is there any good news? Yes there is, for some industries at any rate. Cobblers and shoe repair shops are thriving in the economic downturn, as people look to conserve what they already have.

Dan Forster, of the Cobbler Shop in Highland, Northwest Indiana says that if the economy keeps getting worse, his business will pick up even more than it has done recently. Although Forster has seen a rise in the repair of all types of shoes, he says that the biggest increase has been in work boots, which he attributes to spiralling costs.

Gino Mina, who owns Hakky Shoe Repair in Indianapolis, views shoe repair as a somewhat altruistic calling, as he says that shoe repair not only helps save people money, but it also contributes towards saving the environment (shoes are recycled) and boosts small local businesses.

And while Forster says that cobblers have always done well in economic downturns, Thomas Buck, owner of Buck’s Shoes in Valparaiso, attributes the sudden growth in business to the fact that cobbling shoes is a dying craft. Buck believes that many cobblers are of an older generation and have reached retirement age, and they’re not being replaced when they do exit the business, which results in less competition and more business for those that remain.

Ryan Embry, a third generation cobbler who manages the family business, Trio Shoe Service in Buckhead, Atlanta has noticed an increase in the number of designer shoes being brought in for repairs. The Trio Shoe Service has built a successful business repairing Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks for Atlanta’s wealthy, but Embry has noticed an increase in designer repairs since the onset of the recession. He attributes this to the fact that even the wealthy are having second thoughts about spending money on surplus items when they can save by repairing what they own. It seems that it’s time $2000 shoes earned their keep.

The Shoe Service Institute of America (and why wouldn’t there be one?) has published a bunch of interesting stats on shoe repairs. For instance, did you know that shoe repair has risen by 20% in the US and is now at 45% or that New York and Chicago, which are traditionally walking intensive cities, have the most shoe repairs? The average number of shoe repairs a shop does per week is about 200 pairs. Fascinating, isn’t it?

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TOMS Shoes: do a little good this holiday season

Tis the festive season, the time when we all become gift obsessed (the buying and the receiving), prone to spoiling those we love, and hoping, even though we know it’s goes against the spirit of things, that we will be spoilt in return. For many, regardless of religion, it’s also a time to count blessings and fight the internal Grinch by donating to all the good causes that we meant to donate to during the course of the year but somehow never got round to. Certain members of my family, who are more selfless than I am, donate to charities instead of buying gifts (I like presents and I like giving presents, and I try to support my favourite causes throughout the year anyway).

Anyway, I shall now try to get to the point, which is that TOMS Shoes is giving you the chance to spoil yourself or a loved one with a fantastic new pair of shoes, while doing your bit for the children of Ethiopia. TOMS Shoes, a footwear company with a social conscience, has a holiday campaign going that aims to donate 30,000 pairs of shoes to Ethiopian children suffering from illnesses that are completely preventable by simply wearing shoes. To do this, TOMS will donate a pair of shoes for every pair purchased.

The campaign will run for 30 days, from the 20th November to the 20th December 2008. According to Marketwatch.com, TOMS has created a video for their website that looks into the plight of children in Ethiopia. The site also has a pretty cool meter to show customer how many shoes have been donated, so far the number is around the 15,000 mark, and with roughly two weeks still to go, it seems more than likely that the targeted 30,000 pairs will be reached.

TOMS Shoes has womens’, men’s and children’s ranges and I have to say that I was very impressed to see that they even cater to the Vegan women and men among us, although, sadly, not children. In the women’s range, the vegan wrap boots are particularly funky. I wouldn’t pair of those in my stockings this xmas. The boots are a rather dear $98, but other shoes start at a much more reasonable $42 (for men and women). So why not spoil yourself a little the holiday season, and improve a child’s life at the same time.

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Storing your shoe collection

One of the most common stereotypes about women is that they’re all shoe-mad and will use any excuse to go shoe shopping to expand their already vast collections. As a rule I don’t subscribe to this type of thinking, but I have had the odd occasion where only a new pair of shoes would suffice to make me feel better, and I do have a friend who owns more shoes than she knows what to do with. She has dozens of brand new shoes, unworn, still in their boxes and every now and then she’ll “discover” a pair that she never knew she had, only for it to go back on top of the unworn pile.

A question that plagues many people who don’t understand shoe obsessions is what exactly do these people do with all their shoes? Where on Earth do they keep them? Lack of space is a common problem, even among women (and men) who don’t have large shoe collections. I generally just toss shoes negligently into my cupboard. This has several disadvantages, not least of which is the fact that I have to devote at least 5 minutes of every morning in search of a matching pair. Occasionally I try to solve this problem by leaving my shoes lying next to my bed. But this is no more effective, as I inevitably trip over them or kick them to the various corners of the room and have to spend even more time hunting a pair down.

Amanda Viciana, who runs the Atlanta (USA) chapter of the Hello Stiletto Shoe club (so immediately you know she has a lot of shoes), solved her shoe storage dilemma by converting her unfinished basement into a “shoe room”. Here, her multitude of shoes (she has over 100 pairs) is displayed on various shelves around the room, or some pairs hang from a few well-placed hooks on the walls.

But not everyone has a handy basement going spare, and fortunately there a number of storage systems available that don’t involve taking over an entire room. One of the most popular methods is to store shoes in clear plastic boxes. These boxes have numerous advantages: they keep pairs of shoes together, they enable you to see at a glance what the box contains, and they protect your shoes from damage, dust and mould.

Another box system entails keeping shoes in the boxes they came in. To overcome the obvious difficulty of know which shoes are in which boxes, you simply attach a photograph of the shoes to the side of the box. An even simpler solution would be to write a descriptive label on the box, but seeing a picture of your shoes is so much easier (and more convenient) than reading a description and trying to remember exactly what the shoes look like.

Then there are the old standbys: the door hanger and the shoe rack. Both of these options are ideal for shoes that you wear often and that aren’t that expensive or delicate.

Experts recommend that you take a careful look at your lifestyle and habits before deciding on a storage system. This will help you to establish a system that works for you and that you will be likely to stick to. For instance, none of the box systems would work for me. I don’t have the patience for a system like that, and I’m just too damn lazy. It would only be a matter of time before my shoes were in a heap at the bottom of the cupboard again, and then I would have the additional problem of what to do with a bunch of superfluous boxes. I might be able to keep a door hanger going though, or perhaps an easily accessible shoe rack.

Another tip is to organise shoes by frequency of use, size of heel, colour and occasion, and while that is no doubt immensely helpful to some, for me it would be an exercise in futility. Some people, however really get into their shoe arrangement and further divide shoes by season, and even add notes about which outfits the shoes compliment.

When it comes to shoe storage, your only limit is your imagination. Some people display their shoes in cabinets, as functional works of art. One woman has made creative use of a ladder and hangs her shoes on the rungs. Until someone invents an automatic shoe organiser, however, I’m afraid that my footwear is going to remain in a tangled clump at the bottom of my cupboard.

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