Make us your home page
Instagram

Cobble some real savings

Your heels have worn down to the nails. Your sandal strap broke. Your soles have holes. What better excuse to go shoe shopping? • But wait. Even cheap pairs from discount stores can add up, especially with the likelihood that, given the quality, they'll suffer the same fate. • A better option may be good, old-fashioned shoe repair. There's something quaint and preservationist about going to a shoe cobbler. And in a lot of cases, it's quicker and cheaper than buying new.

"Even if they're inexpensive, you're still saving few dollars if you figure you're spending $7.50 (to replace heel tips) on a $10 pair of shoes," said Earl Duncan, owner of the 65-year-old Holmes Shoe Repair shop at 17 Sixth St. N in St. Petersburg. "And that's not including spending the time shopping, and then you need to calculate gas, which isn't cheap these days."

Sometimes throwing away damaged shoes makes sense. But before you do, consider whether those separated soles or lost loafer tassels or broken heels are salvageable.

"I was surprised at how cheap it was when I first took a pair of dress shoes in to get reheeled," said Carolyn Schmidt of St. Petersburg, who frequents Duncan's shop. "I'd rather just preserve shoes I like and that are comfortable than go out and spend money on new ones."

Here are some guidelines on shoe repair, cobbled from the cobblers themselves, that could potentially save you hundreds of dollars annually in replacement shoes.

Heels are the easiest and cheapest fix. When in doubt, fix those heels. They typically cost about $6 to $10 a pair for women's shoes and $20 to $30 for men's shoes. By replacing the heels, the entire shoe performs better, whether it's a cheap or expensive pair.

No job is too large or small. Cobblers are skilled at adapting to new materials and details in shoes. Most can rebuild a shoe practically from scratch if needed. "Basically, anything can be fixed for a price," said Joanna Cooper of Hyde Park Cobblery and Shoe Repair at 2 S Howard Ave. in Tampa. "It just depends on how much you're willing to spend. It could change the look and structure of the shoe, but anything could be done."

Find shoe cobblers that only cobble shoes. While a good alterations or dry cleaner's place that also happens to do shoes may be fine, shops that only focus on shoes tend to be the most meticulous and skilled at complicated repairs. There also are several online shoe repair services, such as NuShoe.com, that will send you a postage-paid mailing bag for your shoes or boots after you fill out an order form.

Buy well-made (i.e. more expensive) shoes that you love, and do regular maintenance like you would on a car. This especially goes for men's shoes, which tend to be more utilitarian than women's shoes and are also more expensive. In his many years repairing shoes, Duncan said he has been most impressed with Allen Edmond or Alden brand shoes for men, and Nine West, Cole Haan or Rockports for women. If you have a pair of shoes you love, bring them to a shoe repair shop for scuff guard or sole guard application. Some shoes also can be waterproofed.

Don't abandon your shoes forever. Most shoe repair shops will hang on to your shoes for months, and sometimes years, in hopes you'll return for them someday. But it's kind of rude. At Holmes Shoe Repair, there are special shelves for those sad, unclaimed shoes, and actually they'll keep them for up to three years, Duncan said. After that, they'll donate the shoes to charity.

Share yours

What tips do you have for saving money in this awful economy? Share your secrets for publication in a forthcoming feature. Send an email to heresthedeal@tampabay.com, check us out on Facebook at Here's the Deal Tampa Bay, or follow us on Twitter at @HerestheDealFL.

.fast facts

Average prices of shoe repairs

Heel repair/replacement: $5-12 for women's heel tips; $19-40 for men's heels

Full resoling: $15-30 for women's; $40-90 for men's.

Shoe or boot stretching: $12-40 women's; $15-50 men's

Buckle or hook replacement: $10-35 for either women's or men's shoes

Tassel or strap repair: $5-30 for men's or women's

Custom-fit orthotics: $200 and up

Cobble some real savings 01/22/12 [Last modified: Sunday, January 22, 2012 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa's Homeowners Choice seeks to offer flood insurance in other states

    Banking

    Tampa-based insurance company HCI Group Inc.'s subsidiaries are trying to expand their flood insurance offerings beyond Florida. HCI has filed with regulators to offer flood coverage in Arkansas, California, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

    Tampa-based HCI Group is trying to expand its flood insurance offerings to other states. Pictured is Paresh Patel, CEO of HCI Group. | [Courtesy of HCI Group]
  2. Home of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hits market at $3.45 million

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is back on the market for $3.45 million after a brief hiatus.

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is on the market for $3.45 million. [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  3. Trigaux: Halfway through 2017, a closer look at six drivers of the Tampa Bay economy

    Business

    We're nearly halfway through 2017 already, a perfect time to step back from the daily grind of business and ask: How's Tampa Bay's economy doing?

    Is there one theme or idea that captures the Tampa Bay brand? Not really but here's one possibility. The fun-loving annual Gasparilla "Invasion" of Tampa is captured in this photo of 
The Jose Gasparilla loaded with pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on its way this past January to the Tampa Convention Center. In the future a vibrant downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg may be the better theme. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. Will new laws protect condo owners from apartment conversions and rogue associations?

    Real Estate

    Danny Di Nicolantonio has lived in St. Petersburg's Calais Village Condominums for 33 years. Annoyed at times by the actions, or inaction, of the condo board and property managers, he has complained to the state agency that is supposed to investigate.

    That has left him even more annoyed.

    A bill passed by the Florida Legislature would affect places like The Slade in Tampa's Channelside district, where condominium owners have battled a plan to convert homes into apartments.
[Times file photo]
  5. Walmart opens first Pinellas County in-house training academy

    Retail

    Seminole — It had all the hallmarks of a typical graduation: robe-clad graduates marching in to Pomp and Circumstance, friends and family packed together under a sweltering tent and a lineup of speakers encouraging the graduates to take charge of their future.

    New Walmart Academy graduates are congratulated Thursday morning by associates during a graduation ceremony at the Walmart store, 10237 Bay Pines Boulevard, St. Petersburg. The Walmart location is one of the company's training academies where managers complete a one week retail course. David Shultz and Richard Sheehan, both from St. Petersburg, get high fives from the crowd.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]