Repairs of shoes, boots, appliances on the rise

Repairs of shoes, boots, appliances on the rise
shoe repair cobbler

After decades of losing business, repair shops are reaping a benefit of the sluggish economy as members of an increasingly disposable society try to hang on a little longer to the things they already own.

From televisions and refrigerators to automobiles and washing machines, broken possessions are getting a lifeline from a repair service industry that's getting one of its own.

Business is up about 15 percent over last year at Danny's Shoe Repair in West Palm Beach, Fla. "The economy's got a lot to do with it," says owner Danny Catalfumo. "Shoes are too expensive, and the people who buy good ones can't afford to buy them all the time." Catalfumo can fix a pair of Manolo Blahniks — which range from $600 to more than $2,000 — for about $30. Economists point to U.S. Department of Commerce figures proving that tough economic times often cause a surge in demand for repair shops. Notable spikes occurred during the country's last three recessions.

Although Catalfumo hopes the new president will help turn things around (Barack Obama, by the way, was photographed in March in shoes that had holes in both soles; he'd had them resoled already since entering the presidential race a year earlier), he expects his new customers to stick around. "When they see the type of work that we produce," he says, "there's no turning back for them."