When Lambert set up his business 12 years ago, he was able to acquire a complete shop’s worth of machines for cutting, nailing, gluing and stitching as a single lot on eBay from someone getting out of the business. So he says it was affordable, even though much of the equipment, such as the stitching machine, is pretty old — 19th century old.
According to an Oxford University study, nearly half the jobs considered indispensable today, from loan officers and paralegals to baristas and waiters, will disappear over the next 30 years.
“I don’t have elves, no, they revolted a long time ago,” he says with a laugh.
As lifestyles and technologies change, so does the demand for certain occupations. For example, when’s the last time you saw a lamplighter, a town crier or even a door-to-door salesman?
“I’d like to see our society move back into the quality over quantity, you know, in items that are repairable rather than throwaway. I do have two young sons, so, Lord willing they’ll be willing to take it over or one of them will — we’ll see. If not, I suppose I’ll try to sell it and get somebody in here that will care about the community as much as I do and make a go of it,” he says.
Yes, he says, sometimes people are surprised to learn that cobblers still exist, and not just on the pages of a fairy tale.
“I’ve been staring at shoes for 20 years. It’s one of the first things I notice about people. It’s just habit, you know, you’re walking along the street and you’re looking at people’s shoes,” says professional cobbler Jonathan Lambert.
“Correct. That is one of the challenges that we run into as a trade,” he says. “It is a declining trade, so what’s typically happening is people retire, or have to leave the trade due to medical issues or whatever, and there’s no one to take them over. So they either try to sell the equipment at wholesale or try to find a buyer, and they buy it at minimal cost.”
Projects run the gamut from replacing heels and fixing worn-out toes to restoring family heirlooms like antique boots and vintage pumps. Some customers, he says, quite literally want to walk in their grandparents’ shoes.
According to an Oxford University study, nearly half the jobs considered indispensable today, from loan officers and paralegals to baristas and waiters,