Saving Shoes, One Pair at a Time
It is comforting to know Gold Star Shoe Rebuilders is still going strong in an age when far too many shoes are poorly constructed, not meant to last and are destined for the landfill. Shayla Heggs, the company’s manager, reports Gold Star is an advocate for sustainable living and is in the business of saving shoes from this fate.
There appears to be hope on the horizon. Heggs reports she has seen an increase in 25 to 35 year old clients who are committed to making a difference by helping to save our planet by repairing rather than retiring their footwear.
Gold Star was originally located at West 26th Avenue and Dunbar Street but moved to the corner of West 17th Avenue and Dunbar Street when its original location was demolished. She has been with the company for 13 years, which has been under its current ownership since 1982.
She recommends investing in quality shoes and treating them with tender loving care. Allen Edmonds, Cydwoq, Bostonian, Frye and Red Wing work boots are all reputable brands.
With a few simple steps, namely basic cleaning, conditioning (with special lotions or creams), shining, waterproofing and the use of a cedar shoe tree, footwear can go the extra mile. All of the products required to keep footwear shining and in tiptop condition are sold at the store and the staff are happy to teach customers how to use them.
Breathing new life into rock climbing and hiking boots, and even Birkenstocks, is Gold Star’s speciality. Have no fear, if you have a pair of casual or dress shoes they can be mended too.
Hikers account for a large part of their customer base; in fact, people have been known to mail their boots from Nova Scotia and Toronto for repair. Their business has built largely through word of mouth and social media.
Repair shops are few and far between and Gold Star goes the extra mile with their spe-cialized refurbishing of heavy-duty footwear. Behind the scenes, the cobblers work with a factory style press. Few shops offer this service, as they have not invested in this specialized equipment.
Heggs trained alongside the repair department and can be seen hard at work sewing, patching, installing zippers, polishing and cleaning, in addition to her daily work as the store’s manager.
Over the years she has helped grow the retail end of the business. At Gold Star you will find insoles, polish, laces (including a big selection of hiking boot laces), leather dyes and socks. American made Spenco insoles are available for walkers and runners. German made Sportiv Plus insoles come in different varieties for extra cushioning.
Made in Vermont, Darn Tough Merino wool socks come in a variety of fun colours and styles. They are known for being both sweat wicking and breathable. Bonus: Darn Tough socks are guaranteed for life. If they are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them to Darn Tough for another pair, or get your money back.
During the spring hiking boots, climbing boots and sandals are frequently brought in for servicing. The quieter summer months are a perfect time to get a head start on anticipating fall footwear repairs, so make hay while the sun shines and beat the autumn rush. September and October is a busy time for back to school repairs and weatherproofing goes into full gear. With a number of private schools in the neighbourhood there are many leather shoes in for servicing, along with fashion boots, which are steady in the fall and winter months.
Some exceptionally loyal customers, in particular seniors and hikers, have been supporting Gold Star Shoe Rebuilders since 1982.
What does Heggs find most rewarding about her work? She likes seeing the expression on clients’ faces when they are reunited with their shoes, and hearing them say the shoes look even better than they expected.
Heggs wants to inspire people to purchase quality shoes with leather bottoms and good heels. These are repairable and will last you a long time. She says, “We can learn a lot from seniors, like my Nana who saved and cared for many of her possessions. We need to continue to pass on these values to our children.”
Gold Star Shoe Rebuilders
3308 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6S 2C1