by Andrew Alonzo | [email protected]
On Tuesday, the COURIER unexpectedly visited Everett’s Shoe Repair to chat with its new owner, Victor Ojeda, a Los Angeles shoemaker who wants to keep the shoe repair industry alive.
“The job we do here, the way you fix a shoe and how you can bring a really old pair of shoes back to life… some people call it… an art that many can’t do anymore,” he said. declared. “I wanted to give it a life and keep [it] Go.”
180 degrees from the former store owner Ernest Marcy, the easy-going Mr. Ojeda not only was okay with his disrupted daily routine for an hour, but turned out to be a humble family man with a wife and two children. Although she was not there on Tuesday, he said his wife Cynthia Gomez sometimes came to the store to help.
“She’s not doing that, but she’s going to learn. Ultimately she wants to be here to work with me, ”he said.
While most know how Everett started around 95 years ago, few know his new and now fifth owner.
Even as a young man living in Los Angeles, Mr. Ojeda, now 35, dreamed of one day having his own shoe business. Whether it was a repair shop, a shoe cleaning business, or the creation of his own shoe brand, Mr. Ojeda was determined to open the store of his dreams in some way or form. ‘another one. After immigrating from Mexico to Los Angeles in 2006 at just 19, Mr. Ojeda said he started working with his brother in Century City shoe shine. “Then my brother also started doing shoemaking and I went to work with him… It was more like life because life sent me to shoemaking and [now] I am here.”
For more than a decade, while working in his brother’s Los Angeles store, Mr. Ojeda perfected and perfected his technique of repairing and restoring all types of footwear. From re-gluing the tongues and fabrics of the sneakers to repairing the hand-sewn soles on the boots, he says there is no shoe he cannot repair or restore. “I can work on any shoe, if it’s fixable,” he said. “Some shoes, you can’t save them.”
In January 2021, Mr Ojeda said a customer walked into his brother’s store and told him about an opportunity at Everett while he was helping them. The customer explained that Ernie was getting ready to retire and was looking for someone to buy the store. Mr. Ojeda decided to throw his hat in the ring and met Ernie a week later and they started negotiating the terms of the shop.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I really like it and I really like it. That’s why I didn’t think twice about buying the store, ”he said. “I liked the neighborhood. I like everything. And I see a great opportunity for me to have my own business. And that’s why I’m here.
Since April, Mr. Ojeda has officially been the one behind the counter repairing the Claremonters’ shoes. While he obviously enjoys the job, he also mentioned that it can be a challenge sometimes since this is his first business and because he is usually the only staff member. But aside from his wife’s occasional help, he said he’s still up for the challenge of owning an icon like Everett’s.
“It’s because it’s my own business now and I have to do everything… It’s not like I’m working for someone and just going to do my job… I have to be here. If I’m sick, I can’t call, ‘Hey, I’m sick. I’m not going to work. I have to be here and that’s the big difference, ”he explained.
He added that now, as a small business owner who is passionate about what he does, no day or shift really feels like work for him.
“When you have your own business, you always work more and you still work, but you don’t really feel like you’re working because it’s for yourself. It’s for your family, ”he explained. “It’s like whatever you do, it’s better for you and your family, or at least that’s how I see it.”
Whenever customers stop to drop off a pair of shoes, or just one, Ojeda said they are not only supporting his family and his new business, but also helping the environment. Nowadays, he knows that people quickly replace their sturdy, salvageable shoes with new ones instead of fixing them. However, he pointed out that this only created more waste in the garbage and in the world. He shared the story of a client he had this weekend.
“She wanted me to redo the soles. But it was really, really old. The glue is not going to help this shoe, ”he said. “So I [asked] her why she wanted to fix it, right? And then she said she liked to fix things instead of getting new ones to save the planet and help.
While this is on a case-by-case basis whether to buy new shoes or repairs – as the monetary scale sometimes tilts back and forth – Mr Ojeda said that ultimately shoemaking stops and handymen like him are essential to the community.
“It’s more than a service for them and something that everyone needs,” he said. “Machines work with power. I can still fix shoes without electricity, because I know how to do it.
Mr. Ojeda plans to keep Everett’s as it is today: Claremont’s premier shoe repair store, serving residents of all surrounding towns. With a busy daily schedule and no time for himself at the store, Mr Ojeda said it might be some time before he starts his next project, making his own custom boots. .
“I want to, but I don’t know if it’s going to happen because of the weather,” he said. “And making a good pair of shoes takes time.”
The store’s address and phone number remain the same: 122 North Yale Avenue and (909) 626-0213. Stop by Everett’s Shoe Repair and meet Mr. Ojeda Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.