This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Saving soles--Shopping at Larry's Shoe Repair

Last week I had some tennis shoes that had come unglued. They were still fairly new and in very good shape except for the glue failure. Rather than throw them out, I decided to take them down to one of Rensselaer's oldest businesses, Larry's Shoe Repair on Front Street.
Larry bought this business in 1964 from his father, who had had it for twenty years previously. I do not know of any individual who has run a business for as long in Rensselaer. His business has three parts: sales of Redwing work boots, shoe repair, and orthopedic alterations.

RedWing is one of the few shoe manufacturers that still makes some of its shoes in the U.S. I read a few years ago that it is very difficult to make shoes in the U.S. because most of the suppliers, the businesses that provide all the parts, are gone. They exist in China, so it is easy to make shoes there. There is one province in China that makes one third of the world's shoes. Something similar has happened in electronics.
Shoe repair is a declining industry. Shoes are now made to be thrown away when they break rather than be repaired, and most are cheap enough to replace rather than repair. There are not nearly as many shoe repair shops as there once were; the nearest competitors for Larry's Shoe Repair are in Lafayette and Merrillville.

While I was talking to him, he was working on an orthopedic alteration. He had taken the sole off a shoe and put in another layer of rubber-like material to make the shoe a bit higher.
Larry no longer advertises but relies on word of mouth referrals--satisfied customers recommending him to others. After almost fifty years in business, that should be all he needs.

1 comment:

Gene said...

Wow! I had completely forgotten about Larry's Shoe Repair. I took many pairs of shoes to that shop, back when it was Fred's and later when it became Larry's... glad to find that it's still in business.