Modern Shoe Hospital
shoe repair shop
244 Duckworth Street, St. John's - closed Sunday and Monday
Modern Shoe Hospital is the kind of shoe repair business that remembers names. It’s a special thing: you go in (creak of step, the swing of great old door, a voice from the back calls a ‘hello’), and you put your favourite, but nearly-dead boots on the counter. out comes the guy, he eyeballs the damage, offers a solution, hauls out a small square of cardboard and says, ‘What’s your number again?’
Modern Shoe Hospital has been a fixture in downtown St. John’s for almost 100 years, and right where it is on Duckworth Street since 1951. Kevin Wright, grand-nephew of the original owner, is now in charge behind the counter. Kevin’s son, Adam Wright and long-term employee Jim Whey are usually busy between the front and the back of the shop.
They are ‘green’ from a time when not-sustainable meant not-viable, but now we live in a time when a pair of shoes (or a purse, or a zipper) wears out or breaks, the first thought is to throw the item out.
By getting soles replaced, a purse stitched, and gear repaired keeps material from the landfill, and it honours good workmanship. Modern Shoe Hospital also honours style. The crew knows how to keep the signature red on the soles of Christian Louboutin looking pristine.
Modern Shoe Hospital is a good reminder of why it’s better to choose slow fashion. quality goods may carry a higher price tag, but they usually last longer and can be much more easily repaired. Kevin uses the example of Birkenstocks. He says they repair and resole Birks, and customers get years more wear from them.
Many shoes now are not built to last, a phenomenon that Kevin calls “planned obsolescence”. Manufacturers set a sort of expiry date on how long they want the product to function, forcing the consumer to buy more.
Keeping to the 'quality things' that people need, Modern Shoe Hospital makes new shoes and has long since offered knife sharpening service but more recently started retailing Nova Scotian made, world-famous Grohmann knives.
They also sew woollen soles to the outside underside of treaded fishing waders. Kevin explains, "The wool grabs onto the rocks. Once the fisher tries them, they won't go without."
Other customers that won't go without, are the ones looking for snow tires for their shoes!
Buying high-quality, more easily repairable goods helps the environment, and also costs less money in the long run. in the future, Kevin wants to continue to educate customers and hopes that more people will approach manufacturers about quality, and hold them accountable. As for the business? They’ve been around a long time and it looks like they’ll be around much longer.