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'I feel lucky to be around': Saskatoon shoe store celebrates 40 years on Broadway

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For 40 years, Saskatchewan residents have been bringing their shoes into Broadway Shoe Repair for a fix or in search of a new pair of shoes.

“I’ve been coming here, oh god, 15 or 20 years," said Ken Chomyn.

As one of the few remaining shoe repair shops in the city, the store is busy. But not too busy for owner Jeff Wickstrom to do a quick fix on an old customer’s shoe.

“Here’s the problem, here’s the fixing,” said Chomyn. “Don’t need to waste a bunch of energy, of time.”

Wickstrom grew up in his father’s store, in the original location next door.

He spent his high school working in the back and eventually became manager.

“We didn’t live in this neighbourhood, but we definitely grew up here,” said David Wickstrom. “I didn’t know what any of the machines were, but you’d just look at everything and it had that smell of the glue and the leather and everything.”

In 2011, Jeffrey bought the store from his father, Allan. Over the years, he’s continued to build the relationships his dad formed and made new ones.

“He’s like, I remember seeing that person grow up, and every time they walked past the window, they were a foot taller,” Wickstrom told CTV News. “And I’ve seen those stories myself because, in 12 years, some of those kids are almost in high school that I saw being pushed in a stroller.”

Over the years, a key to the store’s success has been a combination of repair and retail. During the pandemic, having an online presence kept them in business.

“I feel lucky to be around,” he said. “I think having the mixture of retail and repair stores carried us. But there’s so few repair shops that were so busy. Sometimes we have to turn people away, we just can’t keep up.”

Another key is selling a good product.

“I’m pretty particular about the stuff we carry,” said Wickstrom. “It’s got to be well built, last long, and if it’s repairable, that’s even better.”

Another key is service.

Wickstrom tells the story of a time his father talked a woman out of the sale of a new pair of boots.

She was in town for a funeral and her old ones were worn and dirty.

While she looked at new boots, Wickstrom took her old ones into the back, cleaned, polished and dyed them, and brought them out to her looking good as new.

But of all the repair jobs over the years, one sticks out for the owner.

“This guy came in and put three boxes on the table and says, I’m with the Beyoncé tour, I need these fixed,” he said. “So I had to fix them very fast, and I ended up getting tickets to the show.”

To celebrate 40 years in business, the store is going back to 1983 with some vintage artifacts and a special gift for the first 40 customers on Saturday.

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