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Top 6 Tips to find a Good Cobbler

Posted on: September 28th, 2013 by Drew No Comments

 

I apologise for my lack of blogging these last few weeks, took a bit of a sabbatical.  I hope you’ve been keeping well yourselves and I am back with a bang today. As the title suggests I want to chat a bit about cobblers and how to pick a good one.
WHAT A LOAD OF COBBLERS

There are so many of them around in Cities at least and it can be really tough to work out which one to take your precious Lanvins to. The actual cost of repairing a pair of shoes is minimal, a ladies re-heel for example would cost the cobbler no more than 20p in materials and £1 in labour, everything else is overheads and profit. Even the more expensive jobs like a mens resole still aren’t that costly£5/£6 max I am not being hard on cobblers, they have a business to run and they charge what the market will pay.

My tips below are regardless of what type of job you want done-fairly generic;

1) Does someone you know recommed somewhere?
Seems a bit of a no-brainer this one, but if ever there was a good piece of advice this is it.

2) Does the cobbler do repairs instore?
There are a number of reasons not to go to an agent store. i) They will not be able to give any professional advice ii) It can be tough mediating between the two stores if things starting getting complicated iii) It will take even longer to get them back.

3) Do they have a Singer Machine (or equivalent) in the store?
If, not they will have to take your shoes off-site if you need to get them stitched on some level.

4) Website?
Many, many stores do not have a website, which is amazing in this day and age. If they do it is an obvious plus for all the normal reasons.

5) Do they stock German Soles?
Again not relevant if you don’t need a re-sole, but if so they are the best.

6) Do they appear to have good customer understanding?
Many shoe repairers are ‘unpolished diamonds’ and (especially women) can feel intimidated by heavy handedness or a peceived lack of knowledge.

I hope this helps you in your quest.

Drew

4 Bridesmaids, 2 Sunshiners and 1 Happy Day

Posted on: August 30th, 2013 by Drew No Comments

 

Please forgive me if this blogs not up to much, it’s been a big weekend.  For those of you unacquainted with the romantic lives of the Sunshiners, 2 of our best (don’t tell them I said that!) tied the knot this weekend, Vera and Domingo, they met over a tin of shoe polish and love Cherry Blossomed (sorry) in an instant.

The service was held in the Lake District and reception in Windermere.  A great deal of drinking was done and most will be nursing a hangover.

I am writing this over breakfast overlooking Lake Windermere and contemplating the long journey home.  You maybe wondering about my gift?  I let them have a half day off for their honeymoon!  I’m full of heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew

Summer Lovin’ in the City

Posted on: August 18th, 2013 by Drew No Comments

It’s that time of year when the birds are singing and the bees are getting busy, yet everything for us humans seems to grind to a halt – holiday season.

We are of course carrying on our office shoeshine service visits as normal, a few Sunshiners are going away, but replacements have been found.  We have a select few who do exhibition shoeshine, we just move them across to office shoeshine, (there are no exhibition shoeshine  this time of year)  It’s a bit of a juggling act!

As for me, I am off to Vietnam for 3 weeks, partly for a holiday and also to foster some links with a charity over there (does the work never end?)  Just keeping my fingers crossed that things don’t go crazy over here while I’m away, not much can be done from the jungle.

In my absence I expect you all not to let your standards slip, no flip flops and that includes you DVB Bank!

 

See you in late August time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew

R M Williams Review

Posted on: July 9th, 2013 by Drew No Comments

 

I will approach my reviews not only from a quality/style standpoint, but also maintenance,  So, as the title suggests today I am addressing JM Williams the Australian bootmaker.

LETS GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING….

RM Williams is an Australian icon that evokes images of the vast Australian outback, of Banjo Patterson and the Man from Snowy River. They have been making boots since the 1930’s when Reginald Murray Williams learned the art of leather saddlery and boot making in the South Australian outback from a fellow known as Dollar Mick.

LOVE JMW BECAUSE…..

The thing that makes JM Williams a rare bird and particularly collectable is the whole cut Chelsea Boot. (to find out more about what wholecut is I will be addressing the term in a future blog, but for the sake of brevity; ‘It is a shoe or boot were the entire upper is covered by a single, non-seamed skin’) The long and short of it is it moulds to the bridge of your foot, making it very comfortable. JM Williams makes a noteworthy example of a wholecut boot.

**The buyer beware sometimes seams are cunningly disguised, if you look at this link for a Tudor boot from John Lobb you can see the seam directly underneath the vamp, it is small, but it is there. http://img168.imageshack.us/i/tudoruf4.jpg/**

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL

Upon inspecting a brand new pair of JMW will notice a ridge running down the middle to the toe, this is not a defect, only proof that they use an old fashioned high end manufacturing technique.

The overall quality of their boots can be best described as basic high end comparable to Allen Edmonds and superior to Loakes. They are very comfortable footwear, doubtless largely as a result of their whole-cut boot construction for which they are famous. They are mostly Goodyear welted. As well as this they are also one of the few bootmakers left that make a ready to wear boot with a brass screwed leather construction.

LEATHERS FOR ALL WEATHERS

The leathers they use on their dress boots are mainly yearling, kangaroo, veal calf as well as suede. I have only ever seen them use full grain leathers. As well as this they do exotic, such as crocodile, but expect to part with the best part of $5500 Australian for these. Another leather, less commonly used by RM Williams is willow. It is a slightly grainier leather than yearling and less expensive. It is used mostly in the cheaper range of boots. I will spare you the technicalities of the leathers, (believe me I could go on!) if anyone is interested to hear further just leave a message.

YOU SHOULD REALLY GET….

If, you pushed me my top JMW tip would be; the Wholecut Craftsman made from french veal in chestnut colour; a handsome, slim, sleek and comfortable boot, perfect for the great outdoors and fear not due to the reverse ’storm’ welting not a single droplet of moisture will penetrate.

WHAT YOU HAVE REALLY BEEN WAITING FOR… Cleaning

There are certain essentials that should be ‘de rigueur’ for footwear of this type;

1. Most importantly they need to be cleansed and scrubbed with water to remove mud and dirt. Now I know this seems obvious, but you would be amazed how many people just don’t do this.

2. Secondly, a leather conditioner – due to the nature and usage you will experience a lot of cracking and drying so a basic conditioner goes down great keeping the upper supple and soft.

3. Next a nice cream, this will cleanse and enhance the aesthetic of the leather giving it beautiful depth and clarity.

4. The finish depends on you – the grand stylissimo; having performed the above a simple buff with a natural chamois would suffice. You can push the envelope and create a deep shine, but for casual shoes I would suggest this is a little frantic.

My next review will be womens shoes, so ladies stay tuned. Have a great day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew

The Secret World of Prada

Posted on: June 19th, 2013 by Drew No Comments

 

 

Some of you may not even be aware – there trying to keep it quiet (I wonder why?????) – but Church’s the venerable British shoemaker has been bought out by Prada, thus ending the Church’s family lineage with one of the world’s finest shoemakers, (they have moved/forced out to Cheaney) I am not one of those anti-corporation types and am certainly willing to ’suck it and see’ as far as what will happen from now on in, however it is hasn’t gone unnoticed that the titanic luxury brand is already turning things in a new direction.

A cursory glance into a store the other day illustrated perfectly the new ethos. Diversification. Whilst the shop was predominantly mens shoes, more and more space was being taken up with higher margin items, wallets, umbrellas and diaries.  This is not necessarily a Bad Thing, but can be alarming to lovers of a marque steeped in tradition.

BRAND ALLIGNMENT

Many of our customers have been fully paid members of the Church’s club for decades and they are worried about slipping standards, a craft becoming an industry. Once upon a time a pair of Church’s showed where you stood in the world, Prada on the other hand in their view are a global hyper brand full of marketing and fashion whimsies who probably couldn’t even spell craftmanship.

Therefore I have created an open letter to the Prada directors in an effort to capture the essence of our concerns and let us all know where and how things are going forward;

Dear Prada Directors,

As I am sure you are all aware the acquiring of Church’s to your bulging brand portfolio has come as a major shock to many loyal customers of Church’s. We are nervous about the direction in which you all intend to take the company and demand answers to the following;

1. How far do you intend to stretch the brand? Are you going to be creating a Church’s fragrance next?

2. Are you planning to outsource the work to China or Italy?

3. Can you reassure us that the traditional craft and customer understanding will not be lost?

4. Are you going to resist horrible new designs (Shanghai anyone?) for the sake of a quick Euro and abandon our favourites?

We do not want to see the end of the marque and would very much like the business to progress, however if it is at the expense of any of the above we will have absolutely no hesitation in taking our business elsewhere.

Yours worriedly

Chuch’s Shoe Owners

Let’s see, if we get a response.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew

Is the Exhibition Industry Dying?

Posted on: June 9th, 2013 by Drew No Comments

 

Exhibitions are just too expensive, on this we are all agreed.  Space cost, staffing, internet connection, lighting, electricians the list is endless.  The average price for a 2 day show for a small stand is between £12,000 – £15,000 meaning you need a great deal of business just to break even.  It is so prohibitively expensive for small businesses many just don’t do it.

So, how can you make and impact on a small budget? Creativity, is the answer a great budget giveaway (exhibition shoeshine anyone??!!) or just doing things out of the ordinary, things that make you stand out.  Just don’t be the freeloader who turns up, (doing research??!!) hands out cards, takes uses your exhibition shoeshine and leaves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew

Our Famous Customers Revealed

Posted on: May 29th, 2013 by Drew No Comments

I am regularly asked if we have any famous customers and the answer is yes, we do.  Some of them have been one offs when we have been supplying exhibition shoeshine, some visiting offices for charity days.

In most cases, I am not allowed to mention many of our shoeshine service clients.

I can tell you that an ex MP who has carved out a careeer as a railway traveller is a user, as is an ex athelete who helped bring a major sporting event to Britain has also sampled out shoeshine service.  As many of our London Shoeshine Service Customers know, when we launched out office shoeshine charitable donations concept it was championed by a very famous entrepreneur.

The biggest star however are the ones we see every week – you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew

How to Make a Shoeshine Service Work for You

Posted on: May 19th, 2013 by Drew No Comments

 

In todays blog I am refering to office shoeshine in particular.  It can be hard enough to find a London shoeshine service as it is, once you have it, how can you make it work for your business?

The key is to make it as convenient as possible for employees to use, positioning the shoeshine service in the kitchen or breakout area and allowing the shoeshiner to approach desks is by far the best.  Intergrating it in this way expect 33% of staff to utilise the shoeshine service.

Some companies have security issues with office shoeshine service, in response to this our Sunshiners all have CRB checks, if that isn’t enough, then a position as close to the action as possible, where people can visit from outside the firewall.  The less travel the better, they are busy and often don’t have time to make a 10 minute walk. Using this format expect a 15 – 20% take up.

Now time to address another popular question, how much time should a visit take?  A shoeshine takes on average 8 minutes, for a company of 100 you would need 3 hours with total access with none 3 and a half.

I hope this makes things a little clearer, I will cover other areas in future blogs or you can email or phone me, I’ll happy to assist!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew

 

 

Are Shoeshine Sponges Evil or Just Misunderstood?

Posted on: May 8th, 2013 by Drew No Comments

 

SpongesMisunderstood

Silicone shine sponges have a reputation that procedes them and are a contentious issue amongst almost everyone we provide a shoeshine service for. Before going on there is one major myth that I would like to start by putting firmly to rest;

‘Silicone sponges DO NOT ruin your shoes’

I feel much better for getting that out of my system. If, I had a dollar for every time someone accuses them of doing so……  (having said this if someone asks our Sunshiner not to apply one we will of course do as they ask)

WHY?

Companies that manufacture sponges refine the silicone they use in polish, concentrate it and apply it to a sponge, so categorically it does not ruin the leather. Could you imagine the lawsuits if it did?
Time for the downside, it does create a slightly sticky coating over the leather that is tacky to the touch, as a result of this, ambient material sticks to it. Secondly, leather is porous the silicone sits on top of the pores and briefly prevents it from breathing. However, the shoe will not display any lasting damage due to this as it is only temporary.
When using a sponge it should be as an extension of the whole process, not used lazily as a ‘magic bullet’ below I have reviewed 3 of the sponges on the market today;
REVIEWS

Kiwi Express Shine RRP: £2.39

You can rely on this for around 30 shines. It is prohibitively expensive. There is a defunct window on the lid with the idea that you can see how much liquid silicone you have left. A nice idea only it is not needed as you tend to simply stop using it when it is not having any more effect on the shoe. Combine this with a design fault that the grey sponge starts flaking and leaving little grey specks all over your front room.

Punch Quick Shine Sponge RRP: £1.99 (high street)

Lasts for around 40 shines. Not to be confused with the crap Punch Max and Punch Max 2 sponge. This is a definate step up from the Kiwi Express and is way better than the weak Punch Max 2. It has a nice aroma and is always moist and ready for action (ooeer!)

Schwipe Shoeshine Sponge RRP: £1.49

Very hard to find. Ask your local cobbler. Lasts 100+ shines. This without doubt is star of the show. It is cheap and almost too good, loaded with silicon, lasts forever and robust. On the downside, hard to find and it can suffer from that same flakeyness that Kiwi Express has.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew

The Shoeshiner is Dead

Posted on: April 25th, 2013 by Drew No Comments

 

We are gathered here today to pay our last respects to the shoeshiner, a beloved son and friend to shoes all over the world.

He will be remembered fondly by those who knew him, sitting on a street corner, brush in hand and coins rattling in his pocket.  A familiar service for gentlemen of breeding.

With every death there comes life and with every shoeshiner there is today a Sunshiner.  The Sunshiner knows no age nor gender and by the work done helps those in most need, a uniformed cash free modern incarnation.

So, let us not remember the shoeshiner with sadness, let rather rejoice in his legacy, the Sunshiner, the office shoeshiner of today.

 

Rest in peace

 

 

 

 

Drew

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