An overwhelming passion for shoes seems silly to some and obvious to others. If you are the shoe-loving type, a skilled cobbler is a necessary friend. Cobbling is an ancient craft, with old world traditions. Along with fine tailoring, it is one of the few such crafts still going strong. The smell of fine leather, the interesting tools, the careful handiwork, the friendly clutter and the interesting personalities are some of the special qualities to enjoy in a fine cobbler’s establishment. San Francisco has many such cobblers scattered throughout the city. At least one of the following suggestions, like a well-made shoe, should be a good fit.
53 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94104
Conveniently located downtown, Jack’s Shoe Repair pleases its many customers with same-day service, reasonable prices and a high level of expertise. Jack’s has been established in San Francisco since 1951, so it must know how to mend shoes. This shop can handle anything from women’s dress shoes, to cowboy boots, to men’s high-end dress shoes or a beloved pair of loafers. It also provides skilled handbag repairs.
22 Battery St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
Galletti Shoe Repair is another financial district shop with a long history. This shop was established in 1972. Enthusiastic customers report that old boots have been “resurrected” by the excellent craft work at Galletti. While many cobbler shops are notoriously messy, Galletti’s is notably clean and efficient. Customers report that Galletti’s excellent organization is reassuring when turning over expensive shoes for repair. Like most cobblers, it also repairs handbags and luggage.
173 W. Portal Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94127
This West Portal shop has the unusual distinction of being both a shoe repair service and a vacuum cleaner repair shop. By all accounts, the owner is a perfectionist in both his areas of expertise. Not only can he repair both vacuums and shoes, he can also custom make shoes and even cowboy boots to the customer’s specifications. Customers describe the owner, Chang, as a charmingly eccentric Korean gentleman with a taste for American cowboy boots, Elvis-style mutton chop sideburns, grand opera and pride in his work.
4501 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
Walking into Pioneer Renewer in the famous Castro District might be described as discovering Gepetto’s workshop in real life. Known for its excellent customer service and reliable work, the folks at Pioneer command a high level of customer loyalty. Owner Al Stanley has been described as a truly old world, European-style craftsman, and one particularly enthusiastic customer has dubbed him “The King of the Cobblers.”
704 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
If you are willing to brave the Tenderloin, Francisco’s Shoe Shop is reputed to be one of the best. Francisco is gone, alas, and it is now Eduardo who plies his old world craft in this tiny shop described as a “step back in time.” Don’t be put off by the locked door; as soon as you knock, Eduardo will buzz you into this cave-like but inviting establishment where the walls are covered with fading photographs of customers.