Luggage Zipper Snagged? Head to Mike’s Shoe Repair

Well, it just goes to show – there’s no such thing as a quick post. I started to write about my experience at Mike’s Shoe Repair and was verifying the street address online, but got derailed by an inaccuracy in the address.

The address on the sign says 2123 and it is located on East 22 Street near the corner of Avenue X, but Google and Live Search maps identify 2123 E 22 Street as INJ Locksmith, Inc. at the corner of Avenue U. Thinking that the official address of the place could be 2123 Avenue X, I searched it – but, the arrow on the map marked a spot on Avenue X that is closer to East 21 St than to East 22 St.

So, I don’t have a correct address to give you. If you want to visit to get your next shoe repair done at Mike’s Shoe Repair, just go to the corner of Avenue X and East 22 Street and look for the sign pictured above.

See how my visit to Mike’s Shoe Repair shop worked out.

Mike’s Shoe Repair is such an interesting place in an obscure package that I felt it was begging for a post. Like most shoe repair shops, Mike’s is dull, dingy, dark, and cigar-smoky. I had never noticed the cobbler smoking, so I wasn’t sure how the air could be so thick and smoky.

During my last visit, a customer brought attention to a another puffing visitor, who appeared as if he was keeping company to the shop owner. When the customer waved her hand over her nose and commented loudly in his direction about how terribly smoky it was in the shop, the visitor just smiled proudly as though ‘dense and dark’ was exactly what he was trying to achieve with the air quality.

Now to the shopowner and sole cobbler. Unfortunately, I don’t know his name, because he didn’t respond to my efforts to get to know him. So, I’m limited in how I can refer to him. I’ll have to live with the old-fashioned word “cobbler” (does anyone even use this word, anymore?). According to Wikipedia, a shoe repair person doesn’t have to make shoes to be called a cobbler).

As for him being the shop owner – I’m not sure if he is the ‘Mike’ listed on the sign, since the sign seems to depict a female cobbler with long black hair. Well, it’s nice to know that the artist didn’t adhere to any gender stereotypes.

It might be fun, though, to one day see a female cobbler next time I walk into a shoe repair store. Hey, someone’s got to understand why it’s important to have those heavily ornamented, strappy, 4″ Manolo Blahniks (with some styles selling at over $1K, it’s practically a crime if you don’t at least try to get them fixed).

This cobbler works day in and day out fixing shoes at a reasonable rate. His prices are nothing to complain about, so he doesn’t even discuss them with you ahead of time. You just walk into the store and say, “hello” (don’t expect a response). Point to the damage on the shoes and say, “Thursday” (or whatever day you want to come in to pick them up). Then, you give him the plastic bag that you brought your shoes in, say, “bye”, and walk out.

On Thursday, just head back to the shop and take a deep breath before walking in. Mike will stop what he is doing right away, grab his cane, walk over to you and hand you the plastic bag with your repaired shoes in it, saying, ‘$3’. If you want to check your shoes while you’re still in the store, you can look around for a flat surface to rest your stuff, but it won’t be easy. You might want to wait till you get outside,  when you can quit holding your breath. Once outside, you take a quick look at the shoes and they are fine.

Just because he runs a simple operation without unnecessary pickup tickets, receipts, or a number you can call to make sure he hasn’t left for the day, don’t think that he can’t fix complicated things like zippers (hey, broken zippers always confound me). Once, I asked him to look at a broken zipper on my rolling computer case. He made some gestures as though he doesn’t know if he can do it, but he’ll try. Two days later, the zipper was moving smoothly.

I have always had a real great respect for shoe repairmen, because they toil day in and day out messing around with people’s smelly shoes. Somehow, their businesses survive and thrive without even the least bit of advertising, marketing, or revamping.

Most shoe repairmen work 6 days a week in the drabbest of atmospheres around all those fumes from that Shoe Goo.I have often tried to glue or make a quick repair to my own shoes, but have always failed. I never can seem to spread that glue properly and inevitably the glue ends up stuck where it’s not supposed to be seen and the sole is still flapping. Even these directions on E-How won’t help me.

I do have one complaint, though. Years ago, I remember it was standard for all shoe repairmen to clean and buff all repaired shoes as part of the deal. Nowadays, either they all they don’t clean and shine and recommend you to buy some product so you can do it yourself. If the shoe repair person has a buffing machine, he’ll charge extra for a shine.

Even with that disappointment, I decided to leave the cobblering to the professionals and support our local shop owners. In honor of their hard work, I just might do a review of every single shoe repair store in Sheepshead Bay. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you!

Mike’s Shoe Repair
Located on East 22 St, near Ave X

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