Capital Shoe Fixery named Senate small business of the week
July 14, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) –
One local business, Capital Shoe Fixery, was honored by the Senate as this week’s small business. The store opened in 1938, when Nick Camechis’ father worked across the street at a local café. In 1966 his father left the restaurant business to become one of the Capital cities cobblers.
Camechis began learning the trade at age 16, and today he happily serves our community doing what he loves, and more importantly he says its fulfilling a legacy, "It's what my dad did."
When one walks through the front doors of the shop, the sounds of the machines whirring and Camechis hammering a shoe can be heard through the glass of the workshop. Camechis works 11 hours a day, 7 days a week. After years of listening to the loud machinery, Camechis has lost his hearing.
But that does not stop him from being the best in shoe repair, "Years ago my dad said sometimes the hardest way to do something is the right way to do something, and that's the way I do it."
Camechis first started working at the shop, greeting customers behind the desk as his father worked on the shoes. He has come a long way since then, "But by the time I got to 1977, he says you know there is enough work in here for you to go fulltime so in 77 I went fulltime."
He has been a one man band ever since, always trying to learn and do the next big thing, "I have got equipment in here that no shop within a hundred and fifty miles of me has, and I can do things the other shops can’t do. And that is probably what I look forward to is coming in here and doing stuff that no one else can do. It gives me a lot of gratification."
Some might find his workshop, filled with an assortment of adhesives, piles of shoes, and water bottles, chaotic.
When asked if it is his form of organization he shares, "This is it, this is how you do what I do with the volume I deal with. You don't work with those basket full of shoes."
After studying his workspace he furthers, “I pick up three and four at a time and when those are done to the best of my ability I pick up three more."
When looking at the piles and cart full of repairs, one begins to understand why he is as efficient as he is,
"Look around you,” Camechis shouts, observing his beloved shop, “I wish mornings I get up that it would die for about a month. And it's not, it gets busier and busier and I am taking as much work now, as I did when there were five people working in here."
And although it is a lot of tough work, it pays off. This week, Camechis was honored by the Senate and Senator Marco Rubio for being the small business of the week in Tallahassee.
He says although he is appreciative, he hopes others know what goes into fixing a pair of shoes, "My dad used to say sometimes people must think that there is a magic box in here that they, we put a shoe in we punch a button and the box does the repair. Everything I do requires these two hands and time."
And after years of long days in the shop with his pup Tucker, he shares he will never get tired of hearing the sound of someone walking through the front door. "You can't make everyone happy and I don't try to but 99.9% of my clients leave here happy and with a smile on their face."
When asked if there was ever a time where a client didn’t leave happy he mentions, "I have damaged a show I did, I was back here doing an orthopedic modification, I was trimming to a sole that thin, very exacting and the electricity flickered,"
What could have been a catastrophe, ended in a satisfied customer, as Camechis went online shopping, bought a brand new pair of the shoes, and gave it to the client, apologizing for the inconvenience. "People are always amazed that I am honest. I don’t take something that I know I can't do a good job. My reputation goes out the door with my work and if I can’t do a good job i am not going to send my reputation out that door with anything less than my best."
When asked if retirement was in the near future, he says, not likely, "The thought of not having this place to come to is going to be very difficult for me to deal with one day."
And with every promise of “I will do my best”, Camechis hope to be open and serving the community, for many years to come.