No Average Job: Shoe Cobbler


By WSIL Manager

MT. VERNON -- This is the first installment of our new segment called "No Average Job." This one takes us to Mt. Vernon to meet a second generation shoe cobbler.

It's a profession that dates back to ancient times, but it's still alive and well in Mt. Vernon.

Step inside Mario Hodge's workshop and it's like taking a step back in time.

The machine he's using is from the World War 2 era..

An old machine, much like his profession repairing shoes.

"All shoes, from flip flops to 500 dollar wingtips," said Hodge.

Mario is a second generation shoe cobbler.

It's a trade passed down from his father who started in the business in 1971.

"He was ten times the shoe cobbler I'll ever be. I mean I'm decent at it, but he was the man," Hodge said.

His father, Richard Martin, opened this shop in Mount Vernon in 1981.

He passed away in 2006, but today Mario carries on the tradition at Parkway Shoe Repair Service on Jordan Street.

"All the old timers, they're gone, you know they've retired or died off and none of the young guys wanna take it over, it's not a very hard job, it's a very time consuming job, you spend a lot of hours in here, but I enjoy it," said Hodge.

The shoe cobbler is one of the world's oldest professions, and Mario makes it look easy.

"There's an artisan craftsmanship that goes into play with it that sometimes I just kind of marvel at some of the stuff I've seen him do," said long time customer, Kent Southers.

It's a line of work most people are surprised to hear is still around, but Mario, says business has never been better.

"The economy got down and our business boomed, you know people, they just don't want to get rid of stuff right now. They want to get it fixed and keep wearing it, you know keep using it," Hodge said.

Kent Southers is one of those people. He's been a repeat customer for more than twenty years.

For him, it's about protecting his investment and saving money.

"Long term it's definitely a a value oriented situation, not to mention once they're broke in and they're comfortable you don't want to give them up again," Southers said.

And as long as Mario keeps working, he probably won't have to.

"If you enjoy what you do, that's 99 percent of it right there," said Hodge.
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