A shoe cobbler is a craftsman or woman who specializes in repairing shoes. Traditionally, these individuals also made shoes, although most modern ones focus on repair and restoration, not the manufacture of new shoes. Many communities around the world have cobblers, and in areas where one is not practicing, people can ship or mail shoes for repair and restoration. Using the services of a cobbler can generate substantial savings, as he or she can repair a pair of shoes for the fraction of the cost of a replacement pair.
Cobblers have been working with shoes for centuries, and cobbling is one of the oldest professions in the world. Historically, people purchased shoes from this person, and used his or her services to continually repair the shoes as needed. A single pair of shoes could last for a decade or more with judicious resoling, refinishing, and minor repair work, giving the wearer a great deal of mileage.
In addition to resoling, shoe cobblers can also perform stretching, resurfacing, reshaping, reheeling, and other repairs. They can work with wood, jute, leather, synthetics, cotton, and other materials used to make shoes, and many also offer services like shoe dying, relacing, and so forth. Cobblers work with vintage shoes, designer shoes, and more ordinary shoes with attached or thrifty owners. Shoe repair may not seem like very big business, but many of these individuals represent multiple generations in the shoe repair business, and business tends to be brisk during periods of recession, when people seek out cost cutting measures, like repair in preference to buying new shoes.
It takes around four years to train to become a cobbler. This training includes learning the use of all of the equipment used in the field, and working with a wide variety of shoes to learn about various approaches to repairing them. Most cobblers train by apprenticeship, often with a family member, and they can work alone or in groups. Prices for services tend to be very reasonable, with cobblers focusing on volume to make their income, working on multiple pairs of shoes every week.
Finding a shoe cobbler is generally easy with the assistance of a phone book. If one is not in the area, several websites provide mail order shoe repair services as well as shoe care advice. A cobbler located in a neighboring community may also be happy to accept mailed shoes from a customer who does not want to take a long drive.