Cobbler fills void in downtown Dover with Capital Shoe & Leather Repair

Publié le par shoxshoes

Capital Shoe Repair and Leather Work owner James Napier stooped down to measure the ankle of Kimberly Aigle Monday afternoon so that he could replace one of the leather straps on the pair of black heels she brought into the shop.

Napier said the shoes, which also needed new buckles, would be ready by Wednesday.

“I’ll take care of you,” he said. “Yes, ma’am.”

Napier, 53, began to learn how to fix shoes beginning at the age of 14 as an apprentice with his father, Frenchman Napier, in his native Cincinnati.

Frenchman Napier, who was actually half French, also taught shoe cobbling at Stoue Vocational School in downtown Cincinnati.

Napier owned three shoe repair shops and five satellite locations in Cincinnati. When he married his wife Anita four years ago, they decided to relocate to the state capital of Delaware. He started to sell off his shops in Ohio about two years ago.

He wanted to buy one of the two shoe repair shops that had been in Dover previously. But the owner of the Governor’s Avenue shop fell ill and closed up. And the other also closed up before Napier could buy it and sold his equipment at the Amish auction. But, Napier managed to buy up most of the equipment at auction.

He worked with the Downtown Dover Partnership to find a downtown location and he opened up off West Loockerman Street on June 1.

Napier brings 35 years of knowledge and craftsmanship to Dover in the form of cobbling and leather, which most shoes are made of.

His father taught him how to tan and mend leather, he said.

“It’s pretty much like a skin. It gets cut and you pretty much mend it with medicine, you might say — leather starch, leather balm {etc.),” he said.

His father also taught him how to mend and re-stud horse saddles as well as how to create orthopedic shoes made from prescriptions.

Napier said he has kept his prices reasonable, ranging from $7.50 for a pair of women’s high heels to man’s full sole and heel for $48.75.

He also repairs women’s purses, starting at $4 or $5.

“I try to keep it right. I’m not trying to get rich. I’m just trying to help the community and senior citizens.”

He once overhauled a $1,500 horse saddle for $260.

Napier does not buy the notion that there is no future for the shoe cobbler in this throw away era, when the market has been flooded with cheap goods from China.

For instance, why would a man throw out an Allen Edmonds pair of shoes, which start at $300 a pair? Napier asked. Allen Edmonds will charge $100 to re-sole and re-heel a pair of shoes, but Napier can do it just as well for under $50.

“A lot of doctors and attorneys wear those shoes and they want to keep them,” he said.

The community has been very good to him in the two weeks he had been open, Napier said. He expects that he will have established himself in the next six to seven months.

Publié dans shoes

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