Downtown business keeping 'dying industry' alive

Staff Writer

Come September, Goodyear Shoe Service will have been around for 50 years, and for 40 of those years, it has been the Barrett family behind the counter.

Located downtown at 11 W. Auglaize St.–where it's been for the majority of its existence–the Barrett family will make your old shoes new again.

But they do a lot more than just shoe repair.

Goodyear boasts a long list of services, repairing anything with zippers, straps, snaps, buttons, hooks, clips, and much more.

"If we can get it on our machine, we'll fix it," Dale Barrett, the owner of the shop, said. "We're open five days a week, we now have four of us that work, and we are busy all of the time."

The business was established in 1968, but Pat and Chester Barrett took the helm in 1978, who then handed it over to their son, Dale, in 2011, withstanding an unfriendly environment for shoe repair.

"It's been a dying industry for quite some time," Barrett said. "At the beginning of World War II, there were 70,000 shoe repair shops across America. In 2003, when they last did a survey, there were 7,000."

Wartime rationing forced shoe companies to re-imagine the shoe, as leather, rubber, and metal were all put toward the war effort. The new, synthetic, materials made the shoe cheaper, but also non-repairable.

Lately, Barrett says, there's been an uptick, with some shoemakers going back to the older style of assembly.

But not so much that they could survive on that alone. So they did what...

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