Sole patch: Need a shoe repair? Weddington is the man to see
Published 12:10 am Sunday, April 7, 2019
SALISBURY — When it came down to it, all Pat Weddington wanted was a hand-stitcher and a polisher to help with repairs he sometimes had to make to shoes he and his wife were selling on eBay.
Weddington’s friends at J.H. Cook & Sons, a supplier, told him about the old shoe repair shop on East Innes Street, below Pottery 101 on the Square. The longtime cobbler in that tiny shop, Sang Nam Kung, died not long after closing in 2013.
Kung left everything pretty much frozen in time. The shop was filled with all his blades, saws, picks, hammers, scissors and glue pots. He left tall stacks of soles and heels and racks of Meltonian shoe polishes.
Ancient machinery that buffed, soled, sewed, cut and stitched made things even more crowded.
Kung’s former landlords, Ted and Cheryl Goins, inherited the organized mess that was Kung’s shop. They loved the old man and had told him not to worry about cleaning out the place after he became sick.
Over 75 years, at least two other cobblers had operated out of that same space. Weddington approached the Goinses about selling him the stitcher and polisher, but the couple wanted to rid the space of everything.
Weddington had to pass, but within a year, the Goinses countered with another proposal, and Pat and his wife, Lauren, bought it all. Pat says the value of the leather soles that came with the shop probably covered what they paid for the rest.
Fast forward to today, and Pat finds himself as Salisbury’s new shoe repair guy, working out of the basement of his home at 726 N. Fulton St.
He has discovered that Salisburians, many of whom miss Kung’s shop on the Square, “are tickled to death that I am here.”
“It’s been kind of cool,” Lauren adds. “People are thrilled to find us, thrilled to see they don’t have to throw out their shoes.”
Since 2016, Pat Weddington has quietly gained traction with his own shoe repair shop. He finds himself fixing a lot of women’s and men’s heels, women’s boots, cowboy boots, work boots, purses, luggage straps and belts.
He has even fashioned a better pair of moccasins for a diabetic customer.
“I just learned these things from doing it, going online and asking questions,” Pat says.
And most of Kung’s well-worn machines have made things much easier. It’s still not uncommon for Pat to come across a tool and the light will go off in his head when he realizes what it’s used for.
Pat says he had an Uncle Jim who used to tell him anything he wanted to know was in a book.
“Now, anything you need to know is online,” Pat says. “And I’ve always been one who’s not afraid to try new things.”
Pat Weddington calls his shoe repair business Patman Shoes Repair.
You could say it’s a branch of the couple’s eBay shoe business, Patman Shoes Sales, and the name comes from a onetime buddy of Weddington’s who always called him “Patman.”
The couple advise to always call first. The basement door of the shoe repair shop is down narrow steps at the back of their North Fulton Street home.
Signs everywhere direct you to the shop door and a buzzer. It has a camera, too, and if Weddington can’t be at the shop, he directs customers on how to leave their repair items or pick things up in lockers at the top of the stairs.
“We try to make it easy for people,” Pat says.
The couple have had their eBay store for shoes for several years. They buy pallets of shoes from store stocks, shelf pulls and even some damaged items that are fixed by Weddington, who can do about anything.
Weddington has a degree in electronics and knows a lot about equipment, lighting and sound. He says he still has a Yellow Pages listing for electronics repair and still gets calls about fixing people’s televisions, stereos and turntables.
His electronics background made him detail-oriented and used to working in small spaces. Somehow the specialized craft and tools of a cobbler have been a perfect fit.
“I had a lady say, ‘You’re a jack-of-all-trades. You know what — you’re a Renaissance man.'” Pat recalls. “Once she called me that, I held on to it.”
A Georgia native who moved to North Carolina in the 1990s, Pat also has managed car dealerships in Mooresville and once even owned a tanning salon.
He and Lauren are musically inclined, and they are part of the praise and worship team for LifeWay Church. Pat plays the guitar, and she is classically trained on violin.
“That’s our passion,” Pat says of church and music.
The couple got into the online sale of shoes several years ago at the urging of another couple. Lauren handles most of the sales side; Pat, the repair end. She takes photos of shoes, calls and communicates with customers and finds the merchandise they sell.
Their full basement and the way they have set it up provides room for 1,600 to 1,700 pairs of shoes and Pat’s repair shop on one end.
But back to the shoe repair business. It took Pat and Lauren three days to move everything out of Kung’s old shop in 2016. They decided they would have to clean everything before moving it into their former house’s basement on North Church Street.
Pat says years of dust and grime from sanding shoes had accumulated in the shop.
“It had to go somewhere,” he says, judging there were 10 inches to a foot of heel, sole and leather shavings against the wall.
Besides all the cleaning and heavy lifting that had to be done, the couple inherited all kinds of inventory beyond the heels, soles and polishes — items such as zippers, tags, pulls and magnets — “everything they thought they may need to use again, they kept,” Pat says.
After Pat and Lauren moved the former shop’s equipment and inventory to their home, friends at church suggested that Pat open a shoe repair shop.
He followed their advice, and by April 2016, Pat was a cobbler. At the house on Church Street, he installed a Dutch door to the outside that helped in serving the public without having customers enter the shop.
He hopes to put in a Dutch door at their North Fulton Street shop, too. They moved there last October.
Besides word of mouth, Patman’s shop also has received many referrals from Ralph Baker Shoes.
The couple are quick to note there’s not a lot of money in shoe repair, and the dwindling number of cobblers around the state and country attest to that. Pat is pretty sure he’s the only person doing shoe repair in Rowan County.
“I think God had been preparing me,” he says.
Patman Shoes Repair, located at 726 N. Fulton St., can be reached by calling 704-770-5035. It’s recommended to call first. For more on Patman Shoes, go to www.patmanshoes.com or Google search eBay store patman shoes.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.