Saving your soles


By Jillian Risberg


Your local cobbler has just what your shoes need

In these lean times, buying a new pair of shoes may not be high on the ‘ol priority list. But that doesn’t mean your feet have to suffer.

Why not take an old pair in your closet to your local cobbler? They’ve got plenty of tricks up their sleeves that can make that prized pair you’ve had for years look as good as new.

“As long as you like the shoe, the shoe is comfortable and you want to keep it, no matter what is wrong with the shoe, we can fix it,” said Lin Rangel, owner of Yes Shoe Repair in La Jolla.

The most frequently requested jobs are heels and soles, especially women’s high heels.

Just a small piece of rubber placed on the bottom of a worn heel makes a difference.

Excessive wear can also take its toll on the soles, but fear not, that is equally fixable.

After removing the whole sole and putting on a new one, Rangel mends and patches holes on all kinds of shoes, even damage done to strappy sandals that have seen their fair share of beach sand.

Whether or not a patch is noticeable depends upon how significant the damage was to begin with.

When a piece of a shoe is missing, the patch is going to be evident, though in other instances, reinforcement from the other side may do the trick more subtly.

Don’t forget the shoeshine because a sparkling pair of shoes can put a spring in your step.

There are several different types of wax and creams used to achieve that radiance and Rangel dyes most of the light colored shoes.

Polishing doesn’t get the color back. For that, re-dying is necessary and he matches and customizes colors.

Cobblers also handle orthopedic wear.

If one leg is shorter than the other is, a doctor may order a prescription shoe with a one-inch difference. A cobbler will build the shoes up and make them even.

“There are so many things we could do - we can refurbish them,” said Greg Kassardjian, owner of Marshall’s Shoe & Repair Store in Solana Beach.

Carmel McClanahan, who works at Lomas Santa Fe Cleaners next door to Marshall’s, has been a customer for 15 years and says everybody who goes there is just as loyal.

“He tries to expedite them (fixing the shoes) as soon as he can, but he does not rush - he makes sure he does a good job,” McClanahan said.

Cobbler Speak

  • Sole: Underside of a shoe or boot
  • Insole: Inner sole of a shoe or boot
  • Sock liner: Another layer of insulating foot protection that reduces friction and fatigue, and keeps feet warm, dry and comfortable
  • Heel lining: Nestles heel while preventing slippage
  • Shank: Metal used to reinforce or shape the area between heel and sole