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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Walking through the front door at Wayne’s Boot and Shoe Repair is to take a step back in time.
Antique soda bottles line the ledge above the door. An ancient telephone hangs on the wall in one corner. Old tools, a clock and a pair of women’s leather dress boots, nearly 100 years old – each have a place on the shelves.
Shoe stitching, polishing and sanding machines dating back to the 1960s and 70s hum in a back room.
“This store has not changed a bit. In 1976 it looked just like this, except a few more antiques,” said Wayne Craig.
The shop on East Belknap Street was originally a feed store. More than 40 years ago, it became a place for people to bring worn out shoes with broken straps, faded leather and thinned out soles.
“I always enjoyed it, the before and after. You get an old boot, and it’s all torn up. I always liked the before and after. Seeing how good I could make it look,” said Craig, who is 56 years old.
Wayne Craig walked into the repair business when he was 14 years old.
“I was looking for a job when I was a freshman. I walked into a boot shop by the high school, just seeing if [the owner] needed any help. He hired me,” Craig remembers.
It took him years to learn the trade, how to tear apart leather and soles and put them back together.
Of all the kinds of shoes he takes in from customers, boots are his favorite.
“Why do people love cowboy boots so much? Because we’re in Texas,” Craig says.
In the early 80s, he got a call from a stage manager for the rock group KISS, they were playing a show in Fort Worth, and the floor was too slick for their platform boots.
“They needed something that would grip. I said, ‘Sure, bring ‘em on up!’” Craig recalls.
In the early 90s, Craig came to own the shop on East Belknap Street.
Many of his customers today date back to that time.
“Probably 15 years, maybe longer,” said James Anderson, who was in one Tuesday morning to pick up a pair of newly repaired boots.
He hardly recognized them when Craig handed the boots over the counter.
“They look a little better than they did when I brought them in. A lot better,” said Anderson. “They’re always ready when he says they’re gonna be ready.”
While cowboy boots may never go out of style in Texas, it’s harder to find places to repair them today, and not just locally. Craig thinks shoes have become more disposable. When one pair gets rough, people just go out and buy new ones.
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