TOLEDO, Ohio — Oftentimes, a new year means new beginnings but for a local business, every day is a step back in time.
Pasquale and Sons Shoe Repair is in the same location where the business started 75 years ago, on Upton near Berdan in Toledo. Over the years, the building has gotten bigger, but the industry has shrunk.
Co-owner Dino DiTerlizzi said, at one time, there was a shoe repair shop on just about every corner, but that’s drastically changed. A quick Google search shows about three shoe repair shops in business in Toledo at the end of 2022.
“[I’ve] been doing this for almost 50 years and I don’t want to quit, ” Mario DiTerlizzi, co-owner and eldest son said. “My dad made it to 97 and [was] still working here every day.”
Accommodating a historic service with an ever-changing world brings challenges, but this labor of love is the perfect fit for two brothers focused on their father's dream.
“He taught us everything," Dino said. "Even as little kids, we were here at five years old cleaning machines and gluing things and he said, 'you treat people well and they’ll treat you back well'."
Their dad, Pasquale DiTerlizzi, died in 2020 after contracting COVID-19.
“It was a big setback because he was such an inspiration for all of us,” Dino said.
Dino said he knows what kind of challenges the shoe-repair industry faces today.
“Today it’s such a throwaway world because [manufacturers are] using more plastics and the high-end shoes are sometimes a little expensive so [customers] don’t get them," he said. "So that [makes] it difficult for us because we can’t fix them because it’s a throwaway shoe."
The shop has expanded work over the years to include more than shoes, like luggage, backpacks and leather jackets. In recent years, even baseball mitts have been brought in for repair.
“I’d love to say shoe repair is booming and the way to go but it’s not, it’s half,” Mario said.
He said the future of the shop depends on who is able to work it.
“I had four kids, fabulous kids and they all have great jobs. I wouldn’t want them to stop what they’re doing, come here and take over the business. Once this generation is done, so is the shop.”
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