Shoe repair business thriving in tough economic times

Janice Takemoto-Gentile
Janice Takemoto-Gentile
Gordon Tam
Gordon Tam
Valerie Chang
Valerie Chang

By Duncan Armstrong

HONOLULU (KHNL) - While many companies feel the economic pinch, one profession is thriving.

"When I find a pair of shoes that are really comfortable that I love, I don't want to give them up" said Janice Takemoto-Gentile of Kaneohe.

For almost 70 years Gordon Tam has repaired shoes, 57 of those years here on 12th Avenue in Kaimuki.

"They like to come and see me and do their repairs" said Tam.

Tam's Shoe Repair is now seeing a spike in customers, seeking new soles and heels for their worn footwear. Shoes line the floor. The shelves are covered with flats and high heels and all reflect a booming business in shoe repair.

"As for my business, I think it's about maybe 75 percent, yeah. So it's pretty busy."

Industry experts say the spike for cobblers will continue.

"Definitely, I am trying to economize like everyone else" said Valerie Chang.

For Chang an old pair of shoes is like a best friend.

"I hate looking for shoes. They don't make them very sturdy anymore unfortunately, even if you buy the best quality shoes."

As for Mr. Tam he says maintaining a pair of shoes is a small way to save a sole and stretch the almighty dollar.

"My prices are reasonable so that's why they like to come and see me" said Tam.

"A good shoe place is invaluable" said Chang.