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Red Shoe House repairs old soles
Repairman saves worn out shoes for more than 40 years
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Daniel Tatum shines a military-grade boot at the Red Shoe House on Oak Street in Gainesville. Once finished, the boots will look new. A third-generation shoe repairman, Tatum started working at the store when he was 15 years old. His father, Eddie, owns the business. - photo by AMANDA HEAD

Red Shoe House

Address: 822 Oak St., Gainesville

Phone: 770-532-3772

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Website: www.redshoehouse.com

Providing North Georgia with an old-fangled service for more than 40 years, Eddie Tatum works long hours to repair shoes, purses, gloves and other leather products at the Red Shoe House.

“Shoes are expensive and we can get them repaired for a fraction of the cost of new ones,” Tatum said.

He adheres to that business model each time he arrives at his shoe repair store on Oak Street. In fact, the Gainesville man started working at the Red Shoe House alongside his father on Saturdays when he was 15.

“As I got older, I just adapted into the business and never left,” he said.

Randall Green has been a client of Tatum’s for 30 years.

“They’re nice folks and they do good work,” the Gainesville man said.

Green’s wife, Faye, recently had a purse repaired at the business.

“You get attached to things, and if it’s real leather, you want to save it and keep it,” Faye Green said. “And everyone wants to save a little money.”

Saving money is Tatum’s goal.

“The people (who) wear higher-quality shoes, of course, want to save money by having them fixed and not just throwing them away,” he said. “A good pair of shoes or boots are over $100 and you can have them fixed for half price of a new pair.”

Along with repairing shoes, the store owner helps those with orthopedic issues.

“I had (a) customer come in who had surgery making one leg shorter than the other,” Tatum said. “So I put a lift on her shoe and raised her up so her legs would be even.”

Seeing customers leave satisfied makes Tatum’s long days worthwhile.

However, the leather repair business has seen a decline over the past years.

“Used to, we had three men working in the back and now it’s down to my son and myself,” Tatum said.

Tatum explained shoemaking is a craft being abandoned.

“Shoes were made with intentions of being used for years and years, repaired, new soles put on them,” Tatum said. “And now it seems like the factories are making them where they are supposed to be thrown away instead of repaired.”

With very few companies making quality shoes, Tatum said his father would be displeased with the way shoes are manufactured today.

“If my father were alive today, he would probably not know how to do some of the things we have to do,” Tatum said. “I would have to train him on some of this stuff that we are repairing.”

Throughout the years, Tatum and his son, Daniel, have had to adapt to the modern technologies of shoemaking.

“Instead of leather-bond shoe, you’ve got more of a polyurethane instead of traditional rubber or traditional leather,” Daniel Tatum said.

Working beside his father since he was in high school, Daniel Tatum feels honored to follow in his father’s footsteps, literally, which makes him a third-generation shoe repairman in the family business.

“It’s always a privilege to learn something that your family has done in the past,” Daniel Tatum said. “To learn what your dad’s done and your grandfather’s done, it’s a blessing to know the hands-on, the tools and to know the things that they’ve done.

“You can pass the craftsmanship on if you wanted to and be able to see what things have went from in the past to where they are in the future.”

Adapting to the fast pace of society, Eddie Tatum continues to work hard not for him, but his customers.

“Our customers appreciate us, and that is rewarding,” he said.

Red Shoe House is open 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. For more information, call 770-532-3772.

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