Students may have to venture farther from campus if they need to repair their shoes or ice skates, since a long-standing campus shoe repair shop closed its doors last week.
After 70 years of business at 607 E. William Street, College Shoe Repair stopped operations on Friday. Store owner Dorothy Brown cited skate repair competition and an increased use of plastics in the shoe industry as problems that prevented the store from making enough profit to stay in business.
Major shoe manufacturers are producing more shoes with plastic soles, which the store is not able to repair. Brown said this could cause problems for the shoe repair industry in the future.
“If the soles are plastic, you can’t repair them,” Brown said.
The opening of the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, a sports complex in the city, also caused a significant loss of profit for Brown’s business due to its skate sharpening services, she said.
College Shoe Repair had sharpened skates since its opening, Brown said, and had a “kind of a monopoly” on the service when the business began selling and repairing skates and other hockey equipment in the 1980s.
Brown said the shoe store’s closing has been an unfortunate event for her and her family.
“I’m very sad. My husband died in July, and it’s like a part of him that we’re getting rid of,” Brown said.
Shortly after her husband died, Brown’s co-owner of the building in which College Shoe Repair, White Market and several apartments reside proposed selling the building. Brown said she couldn’t afford to buy out her associate’s stake of ownership.
The space vacated by College Shoe Repair currently has three potential buyers, but Brown said it has not yet been sold.
When asked where her clients would go for shoe repair in the future, Brown said she had been referring customers to Park Shoe Repair located on North 4th Avenue. According to Brown, Park Shoe Repair is one of the few shoe repair shops left in the downtown Ann Arbor area.
“I imagine they’ll be busy,” Brown said.
Todd Roberts, co-owner of Park Shoe Repair, said he was sad to see College Shoe Repair close.
“It’s a shame when a family business goes under,” he said.
Roberts also said he expects to gain business from the store’s closing, though he added that the increase in profit comes from an unfortunate event.
Speculating on the future of the shoe repair industry, Roberts stressed the need for customers to understand that shoe repair promotes sustainability. The shoe repair business could continue to make a profit “if people are educated that shoe repair is an act of recycling,” he said.