Cobbler Express, a Jewish shoe repair shop between Hanover St and Pearl St, strives in the skyscraper of the American headquarters for Deutsche Bank.
A dismal gloom settles over the Financial District of Manhattan as I stumble across a peculiar shoe repair shop. Blocked lettering hangs on the outside of the shining gold 60 Wall Street reading: “Your Shoes Say A Lot About Who You Are.” I look down at my scuffed Doc Martens and silently nod my head in agreement. I take it as a welcome.
Apprehensive, I make my way into the colossal golden building, passing fancy suits and ties while turning onto a dark hallway. A man wearing a yamaka strides my way and shoots me a smile. As he exits a tiny door, I enter.
I soon become welcomed with the optimism of an older man sitting on a stool with a dress shoe in hand shouting, “Hello!” He points me towards the main desk, and he stops me with the question, “Do you happen to be Jewish?” As I look around, I notice the Jewish novelties, Hebrew lettering around the quaint store and photographs of men wearing yamakas hanging on the decorated walls. “No,” I answer, “I see you happen to be.” As we scuttle through playful banter, he points me to the rightful owner, his son.
A man no later than thirty greets me with, “What’s up, bros.” I think we’re off to a friendly start.
Arriving in the States from Uzbekistan in 1993, Eduard Shimunov soon starts his booming shoe repair business. “It was very hard to start here in New York,” as he reflects on the struggle of migration. Although through all the religious turmoil in our modern society, he still addresses his contempt for the City of New York by saying, “There’s so much freedom here with religion and all in New York. I love it.”
My eyes wander from decoration to decoration hanging on the wall. Nothing too fancy, but the golden cash register really seems to grab your attention. As I sift through the photographed memories and keepsakes, I make my way to the action: the shoeshiner. The New York native states, “I’ve been working here for about...six month,” he guesses while searching for his answer on the ceiling. “I see mostly locals, regulars...”
While exploring the confines of the picturesque business, I catch a customer outside to hear his thoughts on the service. “I’m a regular here,” he confesses. “The team is very friendly and does a nice job.” A smile bleeds across his face as he races to his next meeting.
A place like New York has given Shimunov and many others alike the opportunity to pursue a vital career in such a fast moving city. Local businesses in New York that start from the grassroots with a passion quickly become a home to many. The authenticity and personality of Cobbler Express will keep the doors wide open and crowded for Eduard Shimunov.
By Allirose Fordyce