In today's tech age, businesses across all fields are going digital - even shoe repair.
Gone are the days when New Yorkers in need of new soles and leather upkeep have to trek across town to a tiny shop and leave with a ticket in their wallet to claim the shoe at a later date. Cobbler Concierge, a tech-based shoe repair company that launched earlier this month, handles all of its transactions with customers online and repairs items at its 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Jamaica, Queens.
Cobbler Concierge is "leveraging technology to make high-quality shoe repair convenient with easy booking, courtesy packaging and home delivery," co-founder and chief marketing officer Rebecca Haarlow said.
To use the service, customers make an account at cobblerconcierge.com. The company mails them a box to put their shoes in and prepays for shipping back to its warehouse. When the repairs are finished, the shoes are shipped back to the customer. Shipping to and from the warehouse is free of charge.
"We wanted to eliminate the pain point in the errands for shoe repair that people really don't have time for," Haarlow said.
Co-founder Pettus Randall, an entrepreneur with a background in tech and finance who was Haarlow's business school classmate at Princeton University, came up with the idea of Cobbler Concierge after having trouble finding someone with the skills to repair a particularly troublesome shoe.
Randall eventually met the Rocco family, a long line of shoe cobblers that started their Manhattan business in the 1930s, Haarlow said. Two members of the Rocco family now work for Cobbler Concierge.
While Jamaica isn't typically considered a garment district, Haarlow said they chose the location when they found an empty warehouse that teemed with potential. The space now has a break room and locker rooms to offer a comfortable work environment.
The entire project has been funded through friends and family, Haarlow said.
"We are all extremely dedicated," she said. "Shoes are an emotional purchase for people and we want to make sure that we're taking care of them."
Rates range from $40 for a pair of women's shoes to $80 for a pair of men's shoes, as well as $100 for handbags. The company serves footwear aficionados in all 50 states and offers the same price regardless of location.
Along with addressing whatever repairs a customer requests, the company's cobblers will identify any other problem areas, such as a piece of leather that is wearing thin or a bending heel, and will ask the shoe's owners if they wish to have those fixed as well. They also do stretching and custom work like dyeing, and all shoes are returned cleaned, polished, waterproofed and conditioned.
"The thing that can be tricky about shoe repair is a lot of people go in and don't necessarily know what they need and don't know what it's called," Haarlow said. "We'll handle it all for you."