Cobblers! (Not the Peach Variety)

In my cheapskate research, I’ve learned a lot about BEING NICE TO MY STUFF! I grew up a rough and tumbly kid, who didn’t really care about my looks (but now, I’m SOOOO Hollywood).  I never really cared about my shoes, until I started ruining the ones I loved.  And living in NYC for 9 years, I wore down a LOT of shoes.  I was always sad to see another pair bite the dust – and then had to go on a search for another pair of uber-cheapies that I prayed wouldn’t give me blisters or longingly look at the $100 of leather boots that I hoped would go on sale one day…and have my size…

So, I got a tip from my new pal Erin Gibson (who is a fantastic, affordable, and incredibly entertaining photographer) – she recommended Willie’s Shoe Repair (or as I lovingly refer to it as Willie’s Cobbler).

I meandered into Willie’s on Wednesday in hopes that Willie could fix my beat up boots, my beat up shoes, a broken hand bag, and rubberize my dance shoes (that’s right, rubberize my soles).  I don’t know if Willie is a real person, but a kind gentleman named Raoul helped me out (in a dashing mustache no less).

Here’s how it broke down.

Boots: I paid $30 at TJ Maxx 4 years ago

Repair: $40 for new heels.

This is a tough one.  Raoul told me they were good Frye boot replicas (which run about $200-$300).  Frye’s are a really, really good quality boot made of leather and whatever else they use in shoes.  Mine were mostly plastic and paint.  Since I don’t have the moola to commit to Frye’s, I have to choose.  Either I can get the heel fixed for $40 or I found an upgrade of the same boots for $50 at Target.  I may just meander to Target and see how they looks.  To be continued…

Shoes:  $35 bought on sale in Portland 6 years ago

Repair:  $30 for new heels

I tried looking for a replacement for these shoes (Indigo by Clarkes – cutest!), but they are nowhere to be found.  I think I’m going to get them repaired because I still wear them a lot.

Dance Shoes:  $65 on sale 2 months ago

Rubberizing:  $25

This is a necessary evil, so I don’t slip on stage!  My shoes came with the matching rubber, but he is going to reinforce the heel with super rubber (not the real name, but that’s how I remember it).

Bag:  Gift one year ago

Repair:  $15

I LOVE this bag.  I put too much crap in it and tore one of the handles.  It seems a little much, but this is a straight-up carpet bag that none of my household needle are fighting through.   I’m glad I’m getting it fixed before it gets worse.

Cheapskate lesson: I got to speak to Raoul for a couple of minutes about shoe repair and upkeep.  He told me if I had come in a little earlier for my boots and shoes (before they were crooked nubs) the repair would have been cheaper AND the repair itself would last longer.  The heels have gotten to a point where I will probably have to bring them more often because the rubber will wear down.

He equated shoe care to car care (Another thing I’m trying to get adjusted to).  You have to change your oil and check the fluids.  Shoes (a lot less complex than a car), you have to keep the heels and pads in good shape.  He recommended next time I get a new pair of shoes, bring them in and get the heels reinforced.

It was nice chatting with an expert who is passionate about his craft.  We got to chatting about how there are a lot of disposable shoes out there that we don’t take care of and throw away.  If I had the foresight to take care of my Payless shoes, they might actually turn out to be a good investment (that I could even pass down to a friend or Goodwill store after I get bored with them).  Now, I know I won’t go running to get every pair of shoes I own rubberized, but the next time I buy some shoes I’m going to think about:

1:  Do I really need them? (Yes=Go to #2.  No=End)

2:  Are these once a month shoes or every day shoes? (Once a month=#3.  Everyday=#4)

3:  You probably don’t need to go to the Cobbler.  However, if you start to notice some wear and tear and STILL love them, go ahead and move to #4

4:  Go to the Cobbler.  Now remember, an extra $20-$30 now can save you $50-$100 in the long-term – AND your shoes and back with love you for it.

Have you guys have positive/negative experiences with Cobblers? (by the way, ‘cobbler’ is my new favorite word)



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