This category covers establishments primarily engaged in repairing footwear or shining shoes. Also included are establishments engaged in cleaning and blocking hats.
Footwear and Leather Goods Repair
Shoe repair and shoe shining is a small industry that provides a moderate living for the craftsperson/entrepreneur. The shoe repairman has survived for many years in a constantly changing marketplace, but struggles to find ways to maintain a profitable business in the modern era. Those business owners who have been able to adapt to the changes in the industry brought on by improved technology, manufacturers' emphasis on disposable goods, and changing consumer expectations have survived. Those who have not adapted or who have maintained old methods of business operation have slowly vanished. Many shoe repair and shoe shining establishments are small retail stores usually owned and/or operated by a craftsperson who, with the help of skilled employees, performs services for a certain rate. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures indicated that shoe and leather workers and repairers held approximately 16,000 jobs in the early 2000s, although traditional services offered by the industry have been combined increasingly with other modern amenities. Additionally, some shoe repair companies are part of a larger franchise, and shoe repair shops appeared with greater frequency in retail malls and in shopping centers which are locations deemed essential to the survival of the industry. Among the largest establishments in operation at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Shoe Doctor Incorporated of Dover, New Hampshire, had sales as high as $7 million during the previous decade and employed approximately 100 workers.
The business of repairing shoes has been in existence as long as the shoe itself. Until advancements were made in the twentieth century, shoes were expensive and difficult to manufacture and the creation of one pair of shoes usually took the shoemaker the better part of a day. Therefore, it made economic sense to have shoes repaired rather than purchase new ones.
The evolution of the shoe repairman can be traced back to the Middle Ages, with craftsmen called cobblers. Cobblers bought old, worn shoes, which they repaired and resold...