When Moe Draper of Detroit Shoe Repair compliments the quality of shoe you've brought him, you can't help but feel a rush of pride. This is a man who's seen a lot of shoes. That pride quickly turns into a sheepish embarrassment, however, realizing just how poor of shape those shoes were in. They were going to need a lot of work. Over the next hour, Moe paced from one end of the shop to the other, re-heeling, re-soling, re-sealing, and shining my shoes and bringing them back to life. It wasn't just a lesson in shoe repair, it was a lesson in craftsmanship.
Moe and his wife Aziza opened Detroit Shoe Repair in December 2014. The Grandmont Rosedale storefront on Grand River is the second shoe repair and shine location for the Drapers, who have been running an operation out of Shed 4 at Eastern Market since 2012. This year should be a busy one for the family as they look to open a third location. Moe is also preparing his own line of boots to debut December 2015.
Moe got into the shoe business by shining at Detroit bars. He parlayed that into shoe shining gigs with the Detroit Police Department and the Claymore Shop in Birmingham. Spending so much time at shoe repair shops while buying supplies, Moe networked and built relationships with influential cobblers, eventually traveling with a shoe repair champion to Florida to learn more about the trade.
Moe takes great pride in the craft of shoe repair and enjoys educating people about shoes as much as he does fixing them. Aziza, who also works at the shop, says that most people don't even know that they can get their shoes repaired, they just throw them away and get another pair. The Drapers say that as long as they perform high quality work, word will spread and business will continue to grow.
"You have to stay consistent. When you stay consistent, more and more people will write about you. And the main thing is, when they come see you, be worthwhile to be written about," says Moe. "I just try and do the best I can every day and never get tired of selling the pitch."
Moe opened his first shop downtown in Detroit's financial district. While that shop eventually closed, it was there where he met his wife Aziza, who was running her own natural hair salon nearby. In 2012, the couple combined forces and moved on to open their shoe repair and shining station at Shed 4 in Eastern Market.
They've done well at Eastern Market, where customers can watch Moe repair shoes right in front of them. They've become part of the community there. The Drapers launched a shoe drive for the area homeless; outfitting people with proper footwear, especially in the winter months, can save lives.
In December 2014, the Drapers opened their second shoe repair location, the aforementioned storefront in the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood. Moe grew up there and the family recently moved back to the area. They're working to establish themselves in that neighborhood as they ready location number three.
Detroit Shoe Repair is located at 18716 Grand River Ave.
Source: Moe and Aziza Draper, owners of Detroit Shoe Repair
Writer: MJ Galbraith
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