Among the many estimable charms of small town Eastern Shore life is the existence of small businesses that do things the old fashioned way. Mr. Caldwell operates a shoe repair shop just off the main drag in Easton, and I find my every-two-years-or-so trip back in to see him to be an exercise in civility, value, and contentedness. The shop is not long on creature comforts or decor; it is a place of business, wherein a man works with his hands. There is a strong odor of glue in the air.
Few things in life are quite as satisfying as having a pair of dress shoes resoled. What was once destined for the dustbin is returned to you not quite new, but in a far better state than when dropped off. For a pittance ($35 in this case), I will have at least another two years wear from my cordovan wing tips, perhaps my favorite pair of dress shoes. It feels like stealing.
I dropped the shoes off two Saturdays ago and picked them up yesterday. In the meantime, my black wing tips developed the same malady (sole separation at the right toe, the classic "barking dog" issue), and so I delivered them for recrafting yesterday. I took a pair of shoes in two years ago for repair, and Mr. Caldwell just told me straight out, "I can't fix them". And then he showed me why. While there, I had a nice chat with a man I believe to be his brother, who liked my car and asked how I liked it. We talked cars for a bit (he owned a Corvette and was very happy) and it was a pleasant experience all around--while I was not able to get my shoes repaired, I did walk away with the sense of confidence that I had done all I could do to save them.
So when I went in two Saturdays ago, both Mr. Caldwell and his (likely) brother were there, and wouldn't you know, we had virtually the same car conversation we had two years ago. Perhaps the glue odor is more potent than I considered.
I am not a parsimonious man, though I am not profligate. Were there no shoe repair shop convenient to me, I would hop on the interwebs and have a replacement pair delivered. But there is smug satisfaction in wringing another couple of years from these shoes, and I am happy to try and keep Mr. Caldwell in business in our little town. I only hope that he is training someone to replace him someday.