Credit Union Lessons From the ‘Shoe Cobbie’

Cobblers and Credit Unions have this in common—serving people is its own reward.

by Christine Henzig

I was in the shoe repair shop—yes, they still have those—to have new heels put on a pair of boots.

The shoe cobbler, or “cobbie” as I call him, doesn’t have a fancy store.

It’s sort of a walk-in closet, with the same glass case, light fixtures, and signs that were likely there since the 1950s.

“How’s business?” I asked.

Turns out, the current economy has offered big business to a guy who repairs shoes. He has more than he can handle.

He shared how he opened his place, and how he kept it afloat when business wasn’t so good.

He talked about how he learned his trade: He worked 12 years for a guy who promised to sell him the shop someday when he retired.

Well, his mentor never retired, and he got tired of waiting.

So he decided to open his own place, though he knew it would be tough. At one point, he even sold scrap on the side to make ends meet.

“Well, you sure look happy today,” I said.

“This kid I knew in school wanted to be an astronaut, and today he isn’t,” he said. “Another kid wanted to be a football star. Today, he isn’t. Well, I wanted to be the shoe repair guy, and I am.

“I tell you what,” he continued, “I love this business. It’s all up to me. I’m in control of how things turn out. I love giving customers what they need, and I love coming to work.”

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