Adam Allington of KWMU reported on local St. Louis cobbler, Jeff Lipson owner of Cobblestone Shoe Repair. Jeff is a third generation cobbler, and, with the economy the way that it is, he is a very busy. Give it a listen: Cobbler’s Business Steps Up During Thrifty Times
Here are 4 things that I thought about on the remainder of my commute to work:
- Maybe those small business owners have the right idea. Here we have Jeff the cobbler. It would be much more convenient if his name were Joe. He provides a simple service to complicated people – business executives, mostly. He is not plotting a hostile takeover or deciding whether or not to bail out the auto industry. He is fixing shoes. Right now, among his largest concerns is making sure that he has the infrastructure to handle the scale of business he has right now…pretty good problem to have. As Allington points out – “He’s glad he’s fixing the shoes of corporate executives and not standing in them”…this is an understatement. If there is one benefit to this on-the-cusp-of-a-recession economy, it is that the risk of being an entrepreneur and pursuing your passion is equal to the risk of a “safe” corporate job. This economy needs people who are not afraid to build something. Really, it is the truth no matter what the economic situation, but the rough time just exposes that truth.
- Being on the radio allows you to say things that you would never usually say. Take, for example: “Waste-not, want-not…brewhaha.” Now that is some artistic latitude…or it could be balderdash or it could be my cockamamie excuse to use archaic terms…like “archaic.”
- Americans are slow…uh…learners. There is nothing like a little pain to learn a lesson, but this report points out that really, things aren’t bad enough yet. The Great Depression was much worse, and our economy is different now. So, we would make habits like getting a $15 repair instead of buying $150 shoes more common if things just hurt more. I call this the toothpaste tube phenomenon. When my kids get a new tube of toothpaste, they tend to smash it in the middle using much more than necessary. We end up with toothpaste on their faces, in the sink, on towels, counter tops, etc. As the tube gets more empty they are suddenly able to perform the same task of brushing their teeth with a fraction of the toothpaste. This economy and thriftiness is thrown out the window the moment a new tube of Disney-themed toothpaste is introduced. Adults behave in the same way. When the economy gets better, whatever that means, I am sure that many of us will go back to our irresponsible spending…and why not? well, don’t worry. People like Jeff who have built a strong legacy business will be around the next time tough times hit.
- Strange how the things that can help our environment are somehow just more economically sensible. I know a lot of folks who resist the idea of “going green.” They wonder what impact their habits actually have on helping the planet. But, in this world, it may be less to do with environmental thinking and more to do with just being a good citizen. My parents always had us reuse towels once or twice and always shut lights off…why? Because they cared about the environment? No…they are frugal and didn’t want to be wasteful for comfort’s sake. It seems that the universe has some ethic out there. Some kind of cosmic please-don’t-throw-your-Styrofoam-out-the-window force. Maybe getting your shoes repaired is just good green karma.
LET ME KNOW:
Do you know someone else who has a locally owned business that is doing well? I would love to hear stories about people who are growing despite the circumstances. Send them to me or leave a comment. Also, check out the December issue of Small Business Monthly…we will feature companies that are thriving and hear from experts in St. Louis on how to keep growing through tough times.
HERE IS ONE FOR FREE:
If you got to this page because you were searching for Cobblestone or shoe repair, then take a look at Jeff’s Shoe Car Tips…stay true to your sole, or take time for heeling, or think of a more cheesy metaphor and email it to me.
Keep fighting the good fight, Jeff.
- Jeremy Nulik, Creative Energy Officer, St. Louis Small Business Monthly
PS – Jeff is a son of a son of a cobbler…ah, I feel a Jimmy Buffett moment coming on despite the chilly weather. Also, if the cobbler’s son is without shoes, then what is the status of footwear for the cobbler’s grandson? Alright…I’ll stop now.