LARCHMONT– Jihwan Lee and Junghee Lee own the the only shoe repair shop in town, Lee’s Shoe Repair, though you might not know it by name since there’s no sign.
The couple has worked here for 29 years, coming to New York from South Korea in 1980. They trained under an Italian man who owned the store before for 25 years, but the store itself has been around for over 80. When Lee began training he barely knew anything, and says he would leave his house in Brooklyn at 6:00 am finishing at 1:00 am each day.
Now Mr. Lee knows quite a bit about repair and has customers from Montauk, Manhattan, Connecticut and recently, a mother and daughter from Switzerland.
After he fixes the shoes he makes them comfortable by adding a filling for that specific person that he believes makes it more comfortable than a new shoe. In fact, he tells people after buying new shoes to take them to him and he’ll customize the fit.
“People say they are tired all the time,” Lee says, “everyone is born straight, but they all walk around crooked because of badly designed shoes, I’ll make them straight again. Pain in the knee? Come to me first instead of a doctor and you’ll feel better.”
On buying new shoes Lee offers some advice. “When you’re at the shoe store, put the shoes on the shelf eye level with the heel flat to make sure they are straight. Most shoes come unleveled but because every shoe store has a carpet, when you stand on it, it makes every shoe comfortable.
Customers bring in luggage, belts, horse saddles, and pocket books to Mr. Lee and he fixes them all. “I’ll fix shoes to make them last longer with satisfaction.”
Lee’s Shoe Repair Shop 10 Chatsworth Avenue, Larchmont, NY (914) 834-9152
Open 8am-6pm Monday through Friday and 8:30-6pm on Saturday.
Stories and photos by Jacqueline Silberbush