Kamloops cobbler keeps busy saving soles

By Jill Sperling
April 29, 2016 - 5:37pm Updated: April 30, 2016 - 5:30am

KAMLOOPS — There was a time when if something was broken we had it repaired. Now, rather than have it repaired we recycle and buy a new item.

Not Dennis Kenny, the Kamloops man earns his living making the old new again.

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Kenny never expected to make a career out of fixing worn out footwear. In 1980 he began repairing shoes at the end of an assembly line.

"I kind of just accidentally fell into it. A friend of mine's dad had a shop and needed help," Kenny said. 

Now, at his own Irish-themed shop on Victoria Street the cobbling business has taken off. The shelves are lined with shoes in all states of disrepair, sometimes requiring a creative fix. 

"It's not something you can go to school to learn, I don't think, other than the fundamentals about the operations of the machinery," explained Kenny.

"You have to have some artistic thought to yourself. You've got to be able to learn on the go. You've got to be able to figure out little ... tricks to get it to where you want it to go."

Repairs at Kenny's shop start at $15, in most cases far less than buying a brand new pair of shoes. 

Kenny repairs hundreds of shoes a month, and his craftsmanship has prompted the return of many a customer. 

He said younger people are now realizing the value of preserving the shoes they already own. 

"The kids are realizing, 'hold it - I can get this fixed,'" Kenny said. "That's great,  really good. It was something that was necessary, for sure, for the business. It would be nice if one of those young kids would take an interest in learning the business, because there's no one really coming up behind us."

Kenny hopes his grandsons will one day take up the craft and keep the business in the family. 

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