Jim’s Shoe Repair
Stepping inside Jim’s Shoe Repair is like walking into a time capsule. At first glance, it appears that nothing has changed since the store opened in 1932. Wooden saloon-style booths line the wall opposite shoeshine chairs equipped with golden footrests and leather backrests, while the original cash register still stands proudly in the front of the shop. Jim’s is the place for the customer who wants “the best shoe shine” with a bit of small talk or a glance through the daily newspapers. It is simple and unpretentious, which explains its long history of celebrity customers.
It was an honor to meet Jim, the eighty-four-year-old son of the original owner. His father, also Jim, left Italy for the U.S. in his late 1920s and started the store soon thereafter. Their business has not changed much since its inception, though the store also used to clean hats until it was deemed a fire hazard in the 1940s. Jim emphasized that their shoe repair is performed the traditional way – with most of it being done by hand. There are no nailing guns used and machine work is kept to a minimum – only for stitching and sanding.
Our walk through the back workspaces was like a tour through Santa’s workshop. Jim strolled the various departments of the repair services, patting his employees on the back and exchanging laughs along the way. We went up and down rickety ladders to find every nook and cranny converted into a cozy, but busy workspace. One employee, Benny, remarked on the family-like feel of Jim’s, saying that everyone is happy and that many of the workers have been there for over twenty-five years. As Jim’s Shoe Repair currently fights for Landmark Status to ward off a neighboring Duane Reade, we earnestly hope that the family-run cobbler shop is able to continue its trademark service and presence on 59th Street where it began some eighty plus years ago.