“Thank you for keeping me in business.”
They say one of the leading indicators of hard times economically is the rise of people getting their shoes repaired. It’s a pity, really, that in flush times people don’t appreciate as much the wonderful profession that used to be known by the old-fashioned term “cobbler.” Even after being sexed up when Daniel Day-Lewis went off to Italy to learn the craft, it still doesn’t get much attention or respect.
Well, besides learning how to fix your own hems, sew your own buttons on, and darn your socks (ok, even I draw the line at the last one) the best thing you can do is find a cobbler you like and bring in your shoes regularly for a shine and a spruce-up. I had three shoes that needed some help in varying degrees of complexity – here are two happy results, and one sad one.
I went to my local go-to guy downtown, the reliable 12th & G Cleaners & Shoe Repair. With a full shoe repair facility in the back, he was able to fix the first two with relative ease.
Pair 1: ‘Dollhouse’ Three-Strap Mary Janes. Oh so demure, with a touch of dom around the ankle. They needed some touch-up where the leather was running raw at the toes, new heel taps, and a good polish. A relatively easy job nicely done. $18.
Pair 2: ‘Crown Vintage’ Peep-Toe Platform Oxfords. I am a CV addict, these are my third pair of the cult favorite, bought at a ridiculous discount because they are missing a tiny leather strap that holds the buckle in place. He created a new strap to match the existing one, spruced up the platforms and the heels. Very well done. $18.
And now, the sob story. The death of Pair 3, my ‘Bandolino’ Boots in delicious red leather. I have a thing about red shoes, thanks to Hans Christian Andersen. But sadly these lovely boots had worn down their toes (ok, incorrect passive voice, I wore them down, I accept full responsibility, mea freaking culpa) way too badly to be repaired.
What should they have done to avoid their terrible fate (what should I have done, me, I did it)? I should’ve taken them in right away upon purchasing, before wearing them at all, and had a cobbler add taps to the tips. This would have minimized the wear and tear. You can also have taps added to heels if you tend to grind those down. Ah well, lesson learned.
In addition to my local shop, there are two shoe repair places in the city that I always hear people give props to – George’s at 16th & U, and Duke’s at 14th & V. We’re talking old school here, if you want to see shops with the crazy cobbling equipment, check them out. Though Duke is the DC institution, I’ve heard more praise for George recently. But in any event, leave your own personal recommendations in the comments. In times like these, even shoes need some love.
12th & G Cleaners and Shoe Repair
1204 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
George’s Shoe Repair
1603 U Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
Duke’s Shoe Repair
2000 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009