Shoe Repair Industry Still Kicking At Rodgers' Shoe Service in Little Rock

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Apr. 1, 2013 12:00 am  

Rodgers Shoe Service is one of three shoe repair shops left in the Little Rock area.  (Photo by Luke Jones)

Shoes good enough to be repaired tend to be ones that cost more than $100, brands like Johnston & Murphy or Allen Edmonds, Rodgers said. 

Rodgers said he would like to expand his shop and perhaps open more locations.

“I think my shop has something for everyone,” he said. “I don’t cater to any particular segment of the population, and I’d like to have more of the sales in the operation where I can sell more different types of shoes.”

Rodgers’ services, like most other shoe service shops, extend beyond shoe repair. He can also shine and stretch shoes. He can replace wheels and zippers on luggage. He fixes leather jackets, women’s handbags and hats. He can make keys and fill orthopedic prescriptions. 

“It’s just part of being versatile,” he said. “You want to be able to do more than one particular type of thing in this day and time. There’s a demand for it, but there are not too many people that can do it.”

Indeed, the industry has shrunk. Rodgers said that as recently as a decade ago there were more than a dozen shoe repair shops between Little Rock and North Little Rock. Now there are three: his, Cobblestone on Reservoir Road and Southwest Shoe & Luggage Repair on Baseline. One reason they’re disappearing is simply age. The owners retire or die, and no one’s left to take over.

“Younger people aren’t really going into the business,” Rodgers said. “There’s a lot of work involved. They don’t want to do that work; they want to push buttons on a computer.”

The future of his own shop is somewhat uncertain: Rodgers said he’s training someone to eventually take over, but he has no direct heir. Rodgers said the industry’s shrinkage doesn’t mean it’s disappearing, however.

“You’ve got to have something on your feet in the summertime, the wintertime, when the weather changes and the temperature drops, in rain and cold weather,” he said. “People have got to have something on their feet. This will never go away.”



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