Friday, April 11, 2008

"Shoe Repairs"

I have never entered a pizza place because I saw a guy spinning an arrow. I have never been drawn to go see a condo for sale because someone had the ability to break-dance while waving a sign. I have never bought a cell phone because someone waved "hello" to me on a street corner. I have always been entertained by them (at least most of them) but not really motivated to make a u-turn and follow the arrow. Today that changed.

I was driving near San Diego State today and genuinely wished I had a pair of shoes that needed to be repaired. On the corner was an elderly man holding a piece of cardboard that had the words "shoe repairs" spray painted on it. Just across the parking lot from him was a little shop with the same simple title, "Shoe Repairs." That shop has been there since I can remember. In fact, I did a little research on this shoe repair store and learned it had been there since 1950's. I found an old article in the San Diego Tribune referencing the little shop when discussing the development plans for the "collegetown" that is on the books for San Diego State. Here is a clip:

Not so lucky is Pablo Serrano.

For 25 years, he has run Pablo's Shoe Repair on Montezuma Place, in a little shop that has housed a cobbler for the campus community since the 1950s. Though he repairs all the nice shoes of the big shots at the university, that doesn't give him any sway. He still faces eviction, and he says he has been unable to persuade the developers to make room for him in the new urban village.

"I talked to the guy, but he says they don't need a shoe-repair shop," said Serrano.

Still, he's not panicking, or for that matter, packing.

Gentrification has been threatening to shove aside College Area businesses like his for as long as he can remember. Yet he's still there hammering away, fixing SDSU President Stephen Weber's shoes, he says, as he did the presidents before him, and the footwear of deans and professors.

So why the tug on the heart strings? Why this man and why this sign? I think it is because of what it represented. I have always been a huge advocate for small business owners. When you go into a small business it's personal. You have a window into someone's heart and soul. You are now apart of something that a person worked hard to get. You now get to be apart of someone's dream.

Behind that spray-painted sign was heart. It is hard for me to believe that the young kid spinning the pizza sign has as much pride about his pizza as Pablo has for his craft. I don't know if the elderly man holding the sign was actually Pablo. I don't know how much longer "Shoe Repair" will still be in business. I do know that today he touched my heart by unknowingly sharing part of his story.

Pablo also won free advertising on the "ian and stina blog" ...
If you need "fine shoe or leather repair", go see Pablo at
5120 Montezuma Place, San Diego, CA 92115.


jay said...

i was jogging the other day and was standing at the stoplight right next to the guy. He started talking to some college kid about his business and how he could fix the kid's shoes. i started thinking about my dad... that's something he would do.

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