AKRON, Ohio — A long-time cobbler has decided to hang up his laces and retire after nearly three decades at his Market Avenue shop in Akron. Although the pandemic played a role in the closure of Bob Ferguson’s Highland Shoe Repair, he’s not bitter nor is he upset. Instead, he’s thankful for the soles he’s fixed.
Growing up, becoming a shoe cobbler wasn’t even on the radar, Ferguson said.
“I got into this line of work for three reasons. One, employment. Two, not having a boss, which is everything it is cracked up to be,” Ferguson said. “And three, being able to suit a need without having to sell people something they didn’t want.”
After 31 years, 28 of which have been spent at his Akron shop, he’s walking away — on his terms. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly brought about significant declines in revenue — between 40 and 60% because of people working from home — but only accelerated his retirement plans by a year or two.
Ferguson said the writing has been on the wall for several years as shoe manufacturers have increasingly adopted a “one-time-use” approach to shoe design and construction. Every sole has had a story though.
“Everybody’s needs are pretty much the same because everybody’s feet hit the ground because of gravity in the same way,” Ferguson said. “Whether it’s the underworld, the lawyers, the politicians, believe me, most of those have been through here.”
Ferguson stopped accepting new repair requests on Sept. 10 and the last day for pick up is Oct. 15.