ROCHESTER — The latest in a series of shoe repair stores in Rochester will close for good on Friday. Thee Only Shoe Repair, which has operated in Rochester since 1963, is in its final two days of operation as owners and brothers Mike and Tony Derouin retire.
“The COVID thing and the construction of Broadway had a little influence on that, but basically the main factor is the weather,” Mike Derouin said of their decision to retire.
Mike and his brother Tony Derouin began working at the store with their father in the mid-1970s. The Derouin brothers took over ownership during the 1980s, but over the years Mike Derouin took full ownership while Tony took on an assistant role from time to time.
The closure of Thee Only Shoe Repair comes just five months after Boston Shoe Repair closed its doors.
For Mike Derouin, retirement will require some adjustments. Above all, he will miss interacting with people on a daily basis.
“I’ve always liked fixing things and working with my hands. We’ve been here a very long time, so you get to know your customers. Your loyal customers have been coming here for 30, 40 years; you get to know them well. It’s always fun to see them come in and talk to them and find out what’s going on in their lives,” Derouin said.
Two crowds that have always entertained the Derouin brothers since the customers are bikers and riders. Bikers usually stop by the store for patches they pick up at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally or elsewhere to be sewn onto their jacket sleeves.
As the days of activity draw to a close at Thee Only Shoe Repair, equipment that will no longer be used is sold to an Amish farm on the east side of Harmony. The Amish who buy the equipment plan to do their own shoe repair operation.
The Derouin brothers are hoping for a peaceful but eventful end to the life of the store.
“It’s good to go out while we’re still on top,” exclaimed Mike Derouin.