Recently, we’ve talked about how business is booming at pawnshops and thrift stores – thanks to the recent economic downturn. Here’s an industry turnaround story that no one saw coming. According to USA Today, the latest business to thrive these days is shoe repair shops! Why’s that surprising?
Well, before this year, shoe repair craftsmen – known as “cobblers” – were on the verge of becoming extinct. According to the Shoe Service Institute of America, there are now only 7,000 repair shops left in North America. That’s well below the industry’s peak in the 1930s, when more than 100,000 shoe repair shops flooded the country. The fact is, new shoes are cheaper to make than ever before. So most people don’t see the need to fix-up an old pair of boots, heels or shoes – because they can usually buy a brand new pair for a few dollars more. However, that’s no longer an option for many families, who are looking to cut costs any way they can, and one very easy way to save money is to visit a shoe repair shop.
Consider these numbers: A brand new pair of quality dress shoes costs between $100 and $200, but the typical price for replacing a worn sole only runs about $40. Fixing a broken heel is only $20. Exactly how busy are shoe repair shops? One shop owner in Lakeland, Florida reports having more customers in a 10-day span than he’s seen in years! Another shop owner in Winooski, Vermont is so busy, he’s now got a 4-week waiting list for shoe repairs that used to take no more than 10 days! Many other shops have already hired extra employees to help with the expected holiday rush. Experts predict that as unemployment rises, and as budgets tighten more, stories like this will become increasingly common. We think it’s another good sign that people are finally getting smart with their money!