When I asked my mother to recommend a good shoe repair store here in Brooklyn, she immediately suggested I checkout a shop on Nostrand Avenue. She didn’t remember the name, she just remembered the great work the gentleman did on her favorite pair of boots and how kind and respectful he was to her when she entered his store. Mother discovered Alex, the owner of the “Nostrand Avenue Shoe Repair, Watch + Jewelry Repair” store (located at 1018 Nostrand Avenue and Sterling Street) after the shoe repair shop owner on Flatbush Avenue treated her in a disrespectful manner when he quoted her a price she thought was too expensive. When she asked why his price was so high, his response was, “why do you think it’s too high, is it because you can’t afford it”? That was all she needed to hear before packing up her shoes and to search for another shoe repair store in the neighborhood.
I too had a favorite pair of boots that needed work because my heels were slippery when walking on the pavements. The first thing Alex said to me was that my heels were made of cheap plastic and that it should have been made with rubber. He said, no problem, I can put on nice lifts for you, give you a good price and polish to make it look seamless! I have to say I was also very pleased with the work he did on my shoes. My impression of Alex is that he is a true craftsman and old school cobbler that is service oriented and who cares about maintaining a good reputation with his customers. Checkout his Yelp reviews.
On the other hand the store itself will keep your eyes occupied. Alex has an eclectic collection of vintage signs, old clocks, paintings, porcelain figures, musical instruments covering every inch of the walls, tables and counter tops, all strategically placed for the viewer.
Wanting to learn more about the items in the store, I asked Alex if the items are for sale. “NO, it is my personal art that I collected over many years from garage sales.” Why is there so much of it in the store? His response was simple; My wife doesn’t like them in the house”. People come in all the time and ask if I sell my art. One lady came in and started to cry, she begged me to sell her some art because it reminded her of her mother and grandmother and childhood. I said sweetie, the art is not for sale, but sit down, here’s a cup of tea to calm your nerves. I asked if he ever sold her the art, he said NO!
On my follow up visit I asked Alex about his future plans. He informed me that he is moving his business around the corner to a larger space and that he wants to open a school to teach people in the Flatbush community how to repair shoes watches, jewelry and leather goods. “The shoe repair business is fading away and the new generation doesn’t want to do that. This is something I learned from a young age. My father was a cobbler and my mother was a watch and jewelry repair worker back in Russia, Israel and Vienna, Austria. I worked with my father for 25 years in Midtown Manhattan near the Empire State building on West 33rd Street and Broadway until coming to Flatbush 4 years ago”.
The Nostrand Avenue, Shoe Repair, Jewelry, and Watch Repair Store will soon be moving to 351 Empire Boulevard +Nostrand Avenue where he will have more space to work in and to house his art collection. He expects to be up and running at the new location by June 1st 2016. You can contact Alex at 646-683-2023