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Quad-City cobblers, however, said they have expanded and adapted their skills to keep up with new demands and remain relevant.
Manufacturers today, for example, make shoes with a variety of materials, including plastics, unlike they did in the past, so "things take more time than they used to," Billman said.
"I’m averaging 60 hours a week, and it's not enough.
If you look back there, there are shoes piled everywhere.”After 19 years of serving customers, the 55-year-old Davenport resident is closing up shop at the end of April and starting a less-demanding job to finish his career in the workforce.
Besides their bread-and-butter services, which include sole and heel replacements, repairmen can stretch, dye and waterproof shoes as well as install custom orthotic inserts in shoes for those seeking increased arch support.
Shops also repair leather purses, suitcases, belts and jackets.
When he retires from shoe repair work this spring, the self-proclaimed "Jack of all trades" will take charge of machinery maintenance for a group of businesses in the area. Monday-Friday through the end of April WHERE: 1332 5th Ave., Moline DETAILS: Owner Glen Delveau hopes to sell his equipment and supplies before he closes up shop at the end of April.
He said he will miss his regulars and the work that kept his "mind occupied" for several years. "The day I close the store and it's empty, it's probably going to hit me."Editor's note: Look for reporter Jack Cullen's Notes @ Noon Tuesday, Thursday and Friday online at noon.
• At The Shoe Hospital, a neon sign depicting a cobbler hammering the heel of a boot has decorated the store's facade since at least 1953, Delveau said.
He thinks a shoe repair store has anchored the property for at least 90 years. S., down from a Great Depression-era peak of more than 100,000, according to Jim Mc Farland, historian for the Shoe Service Institute of America, a trade group.
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Locust St., just east of the Five Points intersection in Davenport. On the wall behind the front counter, a document from 1956 recognizes Steve's late father, Ken Hayes, as a certified Master Shoe Rebuilder in Iowa, a sign of the establishment's rich multi-generational history.