Town cobbler calling on community to bring in shoes
WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Try to remember the last time you took a trip to the cobbler... for many of us, it might have been a while, if ever.
One Chittenden County cobbler is asking the community to consider bringing in some old shoes.
Elissa Borden took a trip to his Williston shop to find out more.
John Welsh owns the sole cobbler shop in Chittenden County - in fact, it’s one of three left in the state.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and we’ve done alright. We’ve been through some other pandemics and stuff, bad times, times are tight, and people like their grandfathers and their mothers and fathers they get stuff repaired,” says Welsh.
But that seems to be a dying trend in Vermont, and around the country.
“The last year, we didn’t do so good because the economy was going so well that people were buying new and throwing their shoes in the landfill,” says Welsh.
Not only do thrown away shoes hurt his business, but John says it hurts the planet. He claims shoes take 70 years to decompose.
But environment aside, John is a business owner... and with business hit additionally because of the pandemic, he’s asking the community he’s served for over 20 years, to help him.
“We’re starting to get some movement, but what I need to do is let people know that we’re here. If we don’t get up there, I don’t know how long we’ll stay in business.”
So he wrote a letter, and he gives it to everyone that comes into the shop... asking people to check their closets, and bring him things that need repair.
“There’s nothing we don’t do here, there’s nothing I can’t do. I mean, we’re good at what we do,” he says.
It explains that he’s made a deal with his landlord, but with business at 50 percent, he’s operating on his retirement funds. He needs to hit 92 percent by fall, or he’ll have to close.
Plus, it says he’s offering one free square of toilet paper with each repair.
The letter made its way onto the internet, and reached a senior living facility in Florida, who reached out to John.
“They saw me on the internet somewhere, and would we be willing to do mail order? And I said yeah, that’s what I do I just mail shoes, to Hawaii, I’ve mailed them to all over the country,” says Welsh, who is also the cobbler in charge of repairing Dankso shoes.
But for now, the former Marine, mercenary, and police chief turned cobbler is calling on Vermonters to bring in shoes, bags, belts, anything that needs ’heeling.’
“Right now I need all the help we can get, if stuff comes in, we stay in business, you know?”
The Town Cobbler is located in the Taft Corners Shopping Plaza in Williston.
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