Delaware shoe repair shop closing after more than 50 years in business

Local News

DELAWARE (WCMH) — A Delaware landmark will close its doors at the end of April. 

Ralph Martin has been a pillar in the community for 50 years. The sole of downtown Delaware is hanging up his boots one last time. 

At the age of 88, Martin spends most of his day sitting on his orange couch in his shoe repair shop reminiscing over the good old days. 

A picture of him holding a huge walleye from Lake Erie hangs above him. Wooden shoe inserts hang on the walls, while the smell of leather lingers throughout the shop. 

You see, Martin has the oldest shop on Winter Street and the last of shoe repair store in town. 

He says he even tried his hand at making shoes. 

“I just made a pair or two,” says Martin. But he says they took too long. 

“I didn’t intend on making shoes. I intended on repairing shoes.”

Martin, who’s been a cobbler since that age of 16, opened his shop in 1959. It was in an era where most shoes were made with rubber soles and nailed-on-heels.

When repairing a pair of boots with a worn out heel, Martin insists they need a craftsman’s eye. 

Martin may have slowed down after having a stroke three years ago. But he hasn’t missed a beat when it comes to repair. 

“Now I’m doing it all,” he says.

Martin has dozens of shoes customers didn’t bother to pick up over the years lying
around the shop. He says he would like to get them back to their rightful owners.

With only four days left until he closes for good. Customers are coming in requesting repairs. 

“I tell them hey I’m done. I’m done.”

If you’re looking for Martin and your pair of wingtips you dropped off a couple of years ago, you had better hurry because he’s closing April 30th. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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