The Cobbler Shop, last of its kind

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2017

For more than 30 years one man has been providing shoe and leather item repairs to customers in the Picayune area at the Cobbler Shop.
Abel Guerra has been fixing shoes and other leather materials since he was 9-years-old. At that age his father and brother ran a shoe repair business in New Orleans, where he learned what he called a dying trade.
His father was originally a boot maker in Texas prior to opening the business in New Orleans in 1952, where the family worked.
His brother opened shops in other states, but has since retired from the profession.
Now, Guerra is the only cobbler in the region. That fact brings in more business than he can keep up with, he said. He receives business from not just Picayune, but Bay St. Louis, Bogalusa, La., Covington, La., and Mandeville, La.
He originally began the business as a drop off point in 1982, where people would leave their shoes at a business in town and he would pick them up and repair them at home. Three years later, he opened the location he occupies now on Highway 11 and has been repairing shoes in the Picayune area ever since.
Most of the repairs he performs are for cowboy, or western style boots, but customers also bring in shoes for sole and heel repairs.
The types of shoes he works on are usually expensive, costing hundreds of dollars, which validates the expense of fixing them. Some of the boots he works on are worth up to $400, so paying $75 to have them fixed is worth it.
But there’s a plus side to buying good shoes.
“Cheap shoes are not good for their feet,” Guerra said.
Guerra also repairs jackets and sells genuine Oreck vacuum parts, belts, shoe polish and offers patch sewing.
Guerra has lived in Picayune since 1979. When he first moved here he had doubts that he would like living in a small town after living in New Orleans for so long. But it was the people he met that prompted him to make Picayune his home.
He called his profession a dying art because while people may express interest in it at first, they don’t put the time in to learn.
To Guerra, repairing shoes and other leather items is a fulfilling profession. Even though it’s challenging at times, successfully repairing an item gives him a sense of accomplishment and gratification.
“It builds up your self-esteem when you can take something from nothing and build it up,” Guerra said. “You not only get paid, but you also get compliments.”
His business is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and can be reached by calling 601-799-2291.

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