Gary Aitchison has been repairing shoes around Tacoma, Washington since he was 15 years old. That’s 45 years of being a cobbler. His father opened the repair shop, Syd’s Shoe Repair, and got Gary interested in the business.
The store moved locations several times over the past decades. It’s now located at 4605 Pacific Avenue. Walking into the shop is like traveling back in time. Heavy, antique, shoe-repair machinery crowd the narrow walkways behind the counter. Made many, many decades ago, these machines have the aura of the ancient redwoods and will continue to do their work while the operator is around.
I watched Gary do his craft. He knows his trade. He can do magic on your dress shoes or mountaineering boots, giving them a facelift or bringing them back to life. He’ll repair your belt or a leather jacket or a bag.
He welcomed me into his shop with open arms and let me disrupt his work for hours. He was excited to tell me about his trade, the trade now done by so few, the old machines, the people he’s worked with.
Stop by Gary’s shop. Check it out. You don’t even need to have anything fixed.