I’ve had some shoe trouble in the past couple of years, since Keen stopped making that style I raved about. All I want is a pair of black leather shoes that are comfortable for walking, don’t smash my high arches, look good with skirts or jeans, and don’t have Velcro. (I hate that ripping sound Velcro makes–and on shoes, it always gets full of dust and hair and debris so that it looks awful and may actually stop working.) I don’t want to pay more than $50 unless the shoes are made with fair labor and/or in an environmentally friendly factory. Why is this so hard?! I live in a major city with many shopping options, including a large independent shoe store less than a mile from my home, other shoe stores, major department stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s, and DSW Shoe Warehouse which has an enormous selection and sends me substantial-discount offers several times a year. It seems that the current trends in shoe styles just aren’t very compatible with my preferences.
Instead of replacing my everyday shoes every year or two, as I’d prefer, in just over 2 years I’ve bought 5 pairs of black leatherish shoes (one pair actually is made of some kind of techno-mesh), and only the third pair was comfortable. These are some slip-on shoes with a little elasticized criss-cross strap near the toe, Clarks brand, that I got at DSW. The only problem with them is that the heels wore down rapidly, so after about 6 months they had holes all the way through the heels and I couldn’t walk on wet pavement without getting wet socks. At that point I began shopping for new shoes but continuing to wear these in dry weather.
I don’t actually like shopping for shoes, so it’s easy to procrastinate–while hurting my feet by wearing bad shoes as I run around doing more interesting things. When I finally got myself to some shoe stores, I wasn’t finding anything I liked, and both times I grudgingly bought the most-acceptable shoes they had, those shoes turned out to be really uncomfortable after ten minutes of real walking. A lot of the time I was wearing my plaid canvas sneakers with white rubber toes–which are cute but don’t really look right with business clothes–just so I could walk comfortably.
Then I remembered to actually try the affordable, resource-conserving alternative that is available right in my neighborhood where I walk past it every day!!
Last week I took my shoes with the worn-down heels to Squirrel Hill Shoe Repair. They built up the missing part of the foamy stuff in the heel (pardon my lack of technical terminology), replaced the heel portion of the sole, and even polished my shoes for me, all for $15–half to one-third the price of a new pair of shoes, even made-in-China shoes from a discount store! The leather part of my shoes is in excellent condition, and the front part of the sole is only slightly worn, so I should be able to get another year or so out of them. Meanwhile, I can walk comfortably and avoid the annoyance of shopping for shoes! I’m sure the repair created much less waste than manufacturing a new pair of shoes.
Daniel took his tall lace-up suede boots to the shop at the same time. He’s had them for many years (for medieval/Renaissance costume purposes), and the soles, insoles, and some of the edges of suede near the soles were worn out. They fixed up and cleaned his boots for $40. New boots of that style cost at least $90.
In future, I’m going to ask if my shoes can be repaired before I start trying to replace them! Why mess with success?
Things to know about Squirrel Hill Shoe Repair, if you are going to this particular shoe repair shop: They accept cash payment only. They are closed from 3:00 pm Saturday until 8:00 am Tuesday. They do not work “while you wait”; you will have to come back. (Our shoes were ready 2 days later.) If you bring your shoes in a clear plastic bag, they will reuse it.