By K. Q. THOMAS, Four Points News
Austin Shoe Hospital has opened its newest shop in the former Boat House Grill at 6812 RM 620 N at Bullick Hollow Road. The Four Points location is the company’s 10th in the Austin area.
Austin Shoe Hospital has been in business in Austin since 1983. The parent company, Houston Shoe Hospital, was founded in Houston in 1906. Both organizations — with a total of 27 stores in Austin, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and San Antonio — are owned by the Kelly family, with Carroll Kelly as president and CEO.
“We have always desired a store in the Four Points area, but could never nail down
a location we felt good about,” said Kelly, an Austin area resident. “We are extremely excited about this location and feel it will end up being one of the best we have ever opened in the central Texas region.”
Austin Shoe Hospital repairs and refurbishes all brands and styles of shoes, boots, purses, handbags, belts and luggage. The company will also dye shoes, do orthopedic buildups and leather repair.
Shoe cobbling in one of the world’s oldest and most respected trades, Kelly explained. And the Houston company’s business exploded during the Great Depression.
“Everyone had to repair the few pairs of shoes they owned, because no one could buy new,” Kelly said.
Although the shoe repair industry is in a decline in general, as artisan cobblers have disappeared, the demand for quality boot and shoe repair is higher than ever. Kelly’s firm repairs over 50,000 shoes, boots, purses, belts and items of luggage every month.
“The business is driven today by women repairing their favorite high heels and/or
fashion boots,” Kelly said.
There have been changes, however, in shoe manufacturing, that have been challenging to the repair industry. In his nearly 40 years in the shoe repair industry, manufacturers have moved from traditional leather or leather-like soles, to cushion/comfort molded rubber soles.
“We can repair them, but they are a bit more difficult,” Kelly said. “But starting from a single horse drawn carriage over 105 years ago in Houston, our boot and shoe repair services continue to expand and adapt to the changing needs of our customers.”