Landis Boot & Shoe Repair, which has operated continuously since 1928, closed its doors at the end of the month.
“We had a few offers to buy it, but they never came through, and I wanted to retire,” said owner Amy Thomas, 84.
Thomas says the shop is the last shoe and boot repair left in Durango, and she is aware of only one other, in Grand Junction, on the Western Slope.
“There used to be three or four in Durango alone,” she said. “People just aren’t getting shoes and boots repaired anymore. There’s really no reason to repair a shoe from Walmart. Shoe-repair shops are closing all over the country.”
Landis was originally opened in 1928 by Nando Giacomelli, Thomas said, and her husband, Charles, bought it in the 1960s. Once the repair shop was on Main Avenue, but it has been at its current location at 21794 U.S. Highway 160, near the Durango Dog Park, since 1983.
Executive Director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce Jack Llewellyn said he has had a few pairs of shoes and boots repaired at Landis over the years, and says the shop’s departure may create an opportunity for someone else.
“It will be missed,” he said. “It’s the cycle of business.”
Mervin Stilson, shoemaker and cobbler at Landis, said he plans to begin making shoes and repairing shoes, but he does not yet have a location, and is not sure where he’s going to work from or when he will begin taking repairs.
Shoes must be made of leather or rubber to be worth repairing, he said, but many shoes now are made with plastic and paper.
Thomas has owned the shop since her husband died 20 years ago.
“We’ve worked on some classy, high-priced shoes, but the cost of repairs have gone up,” she said. “Now there’s mail-order shoes and the internet. Things have changed. The world has changed.”
The shop still does a good trade with firefighters who look for heel and toe work in their work boots, she said.
Thomas said she spent much of the past year dealing with health issues.
“I’m fine now, but I’m not going back to work at my age,” she said.