A mechanical whirring frequently fills the back room of George’s Shoes & Repair in Arden Hills, as three family members take turns stitching, grinding and polishing. They refurbish a wide variety of leather goods from a worn pair of work boots to a fraying baseball glove.
“There’s so many things you can fix,” owner Ron George says. “Is it worth it? Bring it in and we’ll tell you.”
Cobbling’s been the George family’s business since 1905, and the shoe store and repair shop recently celebrated 50 years in the northern suburbs. The Georges sell well-made shoes, socks and accessories and revitalize and customize footwear, handbags and whatever else can be saved with a little leather, a few stitches or a new sole.
They’ve cleaned off winter salt stains, stretched the calves of leather boots, added Vibram soles to woven shoes to get them winter-ready and even restored a cherished pair of women’s shoes after a dog chose them as a chew toy.
But if something a customer brings in is beyond repair, Ron has no problem admitting it.
“We like to tell them exactly what they’re getting,” he explains. “We don’t like surprises. And we like to be upfront.”
Ron’s father moved the business from West St. Paul in 1963. Born into the craft, Ron explored other trades for a while, but eventually came back to shoes in the 1970s.
He takes pride in his business and takes care to make his customers happy. “Being a family business, it’s personal,” says Ron. “I like taking something and making it better.” The father of five’s getting ready to retire and hand down the business to two of his children, Melissa and Luke.
The family knows people value what they put on their feet, and George’s wants to make their footwear last. They even have a 24-hour drop box for repairs.
“We turn your old friends back into new friends,” adds Luke.
Their national customer base includes some big names. They’ve done Nordstrom’s repairs since 1992, fixed bejeweled boots for Madonna’s tour in 2012 and recently shipped a shine box to an Olympic speed-skater.
On the retail side, the Georges make friends.
“We like to have good relationships with our customers,” says Melissa. Their varied selection includes shine boxes that Ron often makes himself, and they offer many brands of footwear, including Minnetonka Moccasins, UGG, Dansko and Merrell. George’s is an authorized Birkenstock repair location, and half of the back wall and a display are dedicated to the popular Smartwool socks. Also available: Beautiful Leather Goods coin purses, shoe polish and other accessories.
The Georges also like to do good in the community. They’ve donated about 1,000 pairs of shoes annually to Soles 4 Souls and gave to Joseph’s Coat, a local non-profit that offers clothing, household items and hygiene products to those in need.
Whether you’re looking for something new or hoping to save something old, stop by George’s Shoes and Repair. Chances are you’ll find more knowledge, variety and experience than you expected — just as other loyal customers have.
George's Shoes & Repair
3673 Lexington Ave. N., Arden Hills
4 Blocks S. of 694 – By Cub Foods
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