They call Jim McFarland America’s Cobbler for a darned good reason—the third generation in a line of cobblers that has run McFarland’s Shoe Repair in Lakeland, Florida since 1918, Jim has repaired more shoes than you’ve ever seen.
But the former president of the Shoe Service Institute of America—and Grand Silver Cup Award winner for excellence in shoe repair—knows what’s going on with the industry as well as anyone, and he came on the Shoecast to discuss the disturbing decline in cobbler’s shops in the US: from 120,000 in 1928 to around 3,500 today, the majority run by people rapidly approaching retirement age and without apprentices.
Luckily there are some bright sides, including younger cobblers who do excellent work and also excel at social media to raise awareness. But it may not be nearly enough. So we pick that apart from all angles, and discuss ways Jim sees to stem the tide—and potentially, with any luck, reverse the troubling trend.
But hey we also had a ton of fun! We discuss the Grand Silver Cup and how the SSIA judges pick a winner, plus the kindly man who had Jim seal a few grand in the sole of a shoe, which is totally normal. Oh and let’s not forget that time he repaired the zipper on a body bag, or when he found a blunt in the ashtray of the Trans-Am he just bought, which has absolutely nothing to do with shoes. But, again, fun.
Give it a listen below!
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This episode was sponsored by Standard & Strange, which sells the type of boots you’ll need resoled like 18 times, because you’re never going to want to take them off.