Shoe repair business celebrates 40 years
By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – For 40 years, Shoe Repair Plus has been a part of the village and for 38 years Paul Herwaldt has been its owner.
He purchased the store in 1980 after a family history in the profession.
Herwaldt comes from a family of cobblers. His father Paul opened up a shoe repair store in 1951 in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, about 25 minutes outside of Chicago.
His brother Doug now runs that store. His cousin Tim and his uncle Bill all work in shoe repair as well.
“When my dad was alive we worked well together, but when he died we didn’t and all went our separate ways,” Herwaldt said.
The family is on good terms now, but Herwaldt knew he wanted to leave the Chicago area and branch out on his own.
“I like dealing with people,” he said. “I have a great setup here with two employees who do all of the work and I get to sit here and talk to all of the people.”
In addition to a two-day turnaround on shoes and other work, people can expect a laugh and a chat with Herwaldt when they visit his store at 862 Morris Lane, on the corner of Morris and Oneida Street.
“It’s always been a joy because every job is different even though you are always doing the same thing,” Herwaldt said.
One thing that did change for Herwaldt with his move to the area is he now works in the shadow of Lambeau Field, a far cry from the home of his beloved Chicago Bears.
“I root for the Packers most games,” he said. “It’s just those two games I have trouble with.”
As soon as Herwaldt moved into his location in 1980, he called up the brass of the Green and Gold to offer his services.
Now, a few times a season the equipment manager will stop by with shoulder pads or a shoe that needs repair.
“I just thought they knew I was a Bears fan because they know I’m from Chicago,” Herwaldt said. “… One day my employee was in here and told the equipment manager I was a Bears fan and his jaw hit the floor.”
That doesn’t stop coaches from dropping by to pick up shoelaces now and again.
Herwaldt also had to offer more services than just shoe repair to keep the business alive.
In 1980, Brown County was home to 12 shoe repair stores. Now there are just two.
Shoe Repair Plus sells just about everything related to shoes and fixes everything from boat sails to tents to purses to baseball gloves.
“If you can carry or wear it, we can probably fix it,” Herwaldt said.
Currently he has two employees, a seamstress and a full-time shoe repair guy. The duo does roughly 80 percent of the work.
Herwaldt’s job now is mainly paperwork and meeting people.
“I always tell people I’m the least knowledgeable employee when they walk in now,” he said.
Shoe Repair Plus is open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
More information can be found online at shoerepairplus.com, or on Facebook by liking Shoe Repair Plus.