Jack's Shoe Repair
Richard Brown - Owner of Jack's Shoe Repair
Don’t go to Jack’s Shoe Repair on Viking Way and ask for Jack. He’s been out of there since the current owner, Richard Brown, bought the shop in the early 1960s.

According to Brown, 71, “The store was opened in 1952 by Jack Edwards, my boss. I came to work for him in 1952. When Jack went to Buena Park to open another store, I continued to work in this store. At one time, he had five people working for him.” Though his wife sometimes assists, Brown’s shop, the size of a large hallway, is currently a one-man operation.

Brown’s career was the result of his father’s advice. “I had a very good father who told me to go through life doing something you enjoy. I was a high school drop out and couldn’t get in the military. I liked working with shoes so I started repairing shoes in 1949 at New York Shoe Repair where the Renaissance Hotel is at Ocean and Pine.

“Years ago, parents always had their kids in leather shoes with soles,: said Brown, “Now 90 percent of kids use tennis shoes.” Most of Brown’s workload is shoes, “but we also repair purses and belts,” even the dreaded tennis shoes. “You never know what you’re going to fix. I’ve even worked on corsets, bras, suitcases, briefcases.”

Jack's Shoe Repair - Exterior
Jack's Shoe Repair - Interior  

“Today, people don’t realize that it is cheaper to repair than buy new. We can fix it and it will probably cost from two to five bucks plus they can use it longer. I’ll guarantee my work for three years. If a customer comes back, I’ll re-fix it. That’s why people come right back. The biggest thing today is not ripping the public off. Ten to fifteen times a week, I have to tell them it’s not worth fixing.” Bodell’s Shoe Store, also on Viking Way, often refers potential customers to Jack’s.

Brown notes that new immigrants, especially from Asia, find the occupation attractive because “people can get into shoe repair and dry cleaning without a license. There are about 12 or 14 shoe repair shops in Long Beach area,” and most are operated by new arrivals from Asia.

Part of Brown’s longevity is due to his emphasis on customer loyalty. “ I have four generations that come in here, little kids who came in with mothers, now married and have kids. I have customers from Temecula, Elsinore, Oceanside, San Pedro… most of my customers are from Seal Beach, Bellflower, Cerritos, all over the area, but not as much local. I couldn’t survive if I depended on local trade.”

This article is property of Beachcomber, a Long Beach Community Newspaper
Copyright © 2002 Beeler & Associates. All Rights Reserved.
Close this window...