A Proctor business shoe repair business that has been the focus of customer ire over slow and unresponsive service says it is gradually reducing its backlog of unrepaired footgear.
Bentley Henry, Proctor Shoe Repair owner, said Tuesday volunteers have helped him call all customers with shoes and bags in for repair and talked to them about when their shoes will be ready. In many cases, he said, they’re setting up appointments with customers to pick up the shoes.
Henry said he didn’t yet have a date when the backlog will be erased.
“We’re just working one day at a time,” he said.
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Customers had complained that their shoes were taking months to repair and that the shop was seldom open. Their phone calls, they said, were unanswered.
Debra Thomas, a Proctor Shoe Repair customer, said she took her shoes in to be resoled in August last year. She has driven several times to the store from her University Place home only to find the job was not done or the store was closed.
A volunteer recently called to tell her her shoes were done.
“They told me it would be $42,” she said. “After waiting this long, they ought to be free.”
Henry, who bought the shop two years ago from a family that had owned it for decades, said the backup of unfixed goods happened because he couldn’t find qualified help to shoulder the shoe repair load. Schools weren’t training cobblers, he said, and younger workers were uninterested in the profession.
One Gig Harbor shop owner, Myong Kim, said he recently added shoe repair services at one of his two dry cleaning shops because of demand from his customers.
He talked with other local shoe repair shops and discovered they had no excess capacity to handle more business. He tried to recruit shoe repair people, but got no qualified responses.
In his research Kim found a Texas company that repairs shoes for stores and manufacturers. He flew to the Lone Star State and made a deal with the company to handle the shoes repairs from his Hi-Tech Cleaners shop.
“They have 50 or 60 workers repairing shoes, and they had excess capacity,” he said. He ships his customers’ shoes to Texas, and he said they are returned repaired in about 21/2 weeks.
“That seems like a long time, but I’ve heard it takes a month or more at the regular shoe repair shops here,” he said.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663