A longtime Redmond shoe cobbler is walking away.

Jerry McCabe, who has owned Redmond Shoe with his wife, Lori, since 2003, is retiring. They’ve already sold the downtown building at 627 SW Deschutes Avenue, where they moved the business in 2011, and are looking for someone to buy the equipment and inventory to move to a new location. Jerry said the store, previously known as Redmond Shoe Repair, had been located at SW Eighth Street and SW Cascade Avenue for 60 years before it was moved to the current building, which has seen several uses, including an attorney’s office, bicycle shop and health food store.

While the McCabes would prefer the new owner keep the shop in Redmond, that isn’t a requirement.

“Everybody’s crying the blues about us being gone, because now you’re going to have to go to Bend if nobody takes it on,” Jerry said.

Along with shoe repair and supplies, Redmond Shoe sells footwear from Red Wing, Birkenstock and Minnetonka.

While the McCabes plan to stay in Redmond, retirement will allow them to spend more time visiting their grandchildren in Georgia and Montana.

“I’ve never been able to see my granddaughter play basketball, and she’s a sophomore in high school,” Jerry said.

They say they’ve been asked not to say what the new owner plans to do with the building. But the McCabes are selling the shoe repair equipment and supplies, including several large machines and a large variety of heels, soles and other items with an asking price of $31,500. The shoe inventory costs extra.

The shoe repair equipment has been on the market for a year and a half, Jerry said. There’s been some interest from buyers, but it hasn’t panned out.

“We had two different (sets of) parents who wanted their kids to come across the hill to do it,” he said. “But the kids had a different opinion.”

Jerry worked in his father’s shoe repair shop in western Nebraska growing up. He went on to a career in maintenance of firefighting aircraft but returned to shoe repair when he got tired of the bureaucracy.

The McCabes say the thing they will miss most about the shoe business is the people.

“It’s kind of a common meeting place for all the people,” Lori said. “Plus it’s one of the few long-term hometown businesses still around.”

It is also in a business that is seeing fewer and fewer workers. According to the Shoe Service Institute of America, the number of shoe repair shops across the country has decreased from 100,000 in the 1930s to 15,000 in 1997 to about 5,000 as of earlier this year.

But the McCabes say it is still a very much needed service.

“It’s pretty satisfying,” Jerry said. “It’s something that’s totally needed, especially for the more elderly type people who don’t have any business driving to Bend.”

Honesty is the key to doing well in the business, the McCabes say.

“And not worrying about how quickly you can do things, but how good you can do them,” Jerry said.

By providing an option to replacing shoes, shoe repair was one of the first businesses to use eco-friendly recycling, Jerry said.

“Buy quality shoes and get ‘em fixed,” he said. “They fit, they don’t hurt you and you keep ‘em going as long as you can. That’s much less trash in the cotton pickin’ landfill.”

To give himself time to repair the last shoes, Jerry expects to not take any new shoe repair orders after the end of October and will close the business if no one buys the equipment by late December, he said.

Michele Hatchell of Redmond will miss Redmond Shoe. She said it feels like you are in a small-town store.

“The people here are like family,” she said. “They’re so helpful and so nice. They’re regular Oregon people.”

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com

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