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Angel’s Shoe Repair beats a 100-year path to Capitol Hill

Raymond Angel will tell you he graduated from the University of Washington in the mid 70s with a degree in Law, Society and Justice. He will also tell you he had no intention to go into his father’s shoe repair business. 

“Well — instead of saving souls in court, I’m lucky enough to save soles here now,” Raymond quips.

Just a little bit of shoe humor.

Angel’s Shoe Repair, a family business started 100 years ago in Seattle, is celebrating its landmark centennial anniversary on Capitol Hill. As one of the the rare things that has remained the same over the years in the rapidly changing Capitol Hill neighborhood, Angel chalks that longevity up to a bit of fate, and a lot of good old fashioned experience. 

“We’ve been around for a long time. You learn a few things over the years,” Angel said.


Even though the years have given him experience, Angel still uses largely the same equipment and techniques his grandfather Joseph Angel did when he immigrated from the Isle of Rhodes and started the original business in 1912. 

“My stitcher is a model from 1912, my finisher is from 1940, and my Singer sewing machine is an 1880,” Angel says. “Most machinery was built to last forever back then.”

About 3 to 4 customers a day come in. “Always nice people, looking to fix their shoes and save money.”

In its earliest iteration, Angel’s Shoe Repair was known as Behar & Issac Angel Brothers Shoe Repair. According to Angel, his grandfather was known as “Behar” to most people, a Jewish knickname meaning “eldest.” The business began on Roosevelt, moving for the first of four times over to 607 Pine in the early 20s. In 1980, the shop finally settled in its current location at 1465 E Republican. 

“I like working with my hands,” Angel says as he fiddles with a boot. “Working with criminals for a bit after I graduated, I realized how hard they were to get along with. My customers though, they’ve always been great, and make the job so rewarding for me. The people are wonderful, and I’ve never really gotten a bad check—people who take care of their shoes tend to be good, reliable people.” 

Respecting and honoring customers is a lesson Angel learned from his father Eli, who owned the shop until Raymond took over. Eli was a fixture in the neighborhood, known for his kindness and consideration.

Generations of Angels look out from the shop’s wall.

Robert Fulgham’s classic 1989 New York Times Bestseller All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, features a chapter on Eli and his little Seattle shoe business, which Fulgham was a devoted customer of back in the day.  

“My dad would sometimes go in the back and put cookies in the bag with the shoes when customers came for pick-up,” Angel says. “Robert Fulgham loved that little detail my dad paid attention to when it came to making people happy and being a kind person.”

And now that he’s in charge, Angel tries to pay his own customers the same respect his father did. Old photos of his father, grandfather, and uncle peer out at him from the shop wall, reminding him of where he came from, and what values to hold close in moving toward the future. Even though he didn’t end up practicing law, Angel is intensely proud to continue his family legacy here in Seattle.  As for his own kids?

“They’re not interested in taking over the business at all,” Angel says of his adult son and daughter. “I don’t blame them though—I wasn’t interested either!”

There are plans for an August 7th celebration around 15th Ave E as part of Angel’s anniversary. Watch for details — or stop by the shop.

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22 Comments
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brian
8 years ago

way to go Angel.. you rock! such great service and work. love bringing my shoes to you and your expertise.

Rob
Rob
8 years ago

Angel’s is a great place. My daughter loves going there and talking. I wish I had more business to give him.

Doh
Doh
8 years ago

I only knew about the one in Broadway Market. If this guy is nice, I’d be willing to go to him, because the two guys at Broadway Market are a bit surly.

jseattle
8 years ago

The Broadway guys are just fine — I still have soft spot in heart for the old baseball glove they relaced for me. Both are worth supporting.

marykay
8 years ago

Wow…a century celebration…no small feat!

top_of_the_hiller
8 years ago

It’s nice to see folks who stick with the repair business, given this age of disposable everything. Well done, Angels.

I’d actually love to give them more business, though I’ve taken several pairs of shoes over to Angel and he said that most shoes (and even expensive ones) are no longer made to be repaired. Speaks volumes about Raymond’s honesty (kudos!) though it’s kinda sad that shoe these days are such low quality/durability. Hope the designers of tomorrow think about this a little more so craftsmen like the Angels don’t go the way of the dinosaur…

ERF
ERF
8 years ago

Now I know were to take handmade italian shoes. If I can just find a cleaner that doesn’t destroy mother of pearl buttons.

Surly?
8 years ago

Come on…The Broadway shoe guys are the nicest guys ever!

feet
8 years ago

no small feet* you mean. haha

Summer
8 years ago

I love Angels! Very friendly guy, amazing prices, wish I could be his apprentice.

steven
8 years ago

Raymond Angel is a true Gentleman. He is the most kind and honest man you will ever meet. Period.

Jack
8 years ago

Congrats Cousin Raymond on your 100 years in Business! I still remember when Uncle Eli, your dad was working there. I miss his corny jokes.

Joyce (McClure) Grajczyk

Congratulations, Ray on 100 years in your family business and being willing to take over for your father! As a fellow Franklin grad of the class of 1966 and knowing you then, I always thought of you as one of the “good guys”! Now you have proven this to be true! Way to Go, Ray!!

sandi
8 years ago

So very proud of your families achievement of 100 years of saving soles.
With out a doubt you are the best and have been taught well by your dad.
The world needs more business men who have the heart and consideration that you have of your customers. Hopefully someday your son may want to follow in your footsteps to keep the legacy going. Your the best! From
Sandi who is willing to drive all the way from Olympia for your great service.

Allan
8 years ago

I may have just found my new shoe shop. The guy at University Village is a bit too raw and terse for me.

James Ferrandini
8 years ago

I remember your father and I have continued to come to your shop ever since. You are honest, kind, and do the best work around. You have made my old shoes new many times over. I wish for the days when we had leather soles. We live in a wasteful society.

Bob Varon
8 years ago

Damn proud to call him “friend”. Keep the history alive my friend, ther is not enough of that around.

Stay well

Bill Jones
8 years ago

I went to school with Ray. Never thought about him as a lawyer or a shoe man, but I am glad he chose the honorable profession. Long time ago, but Ray has not changed much. I plan on being there on the 7th.

thomas
8 years ago

Honest craftsmanship by an honest businessman — a rarity today. If you happen into a morning conversation with Ray, perhaps at the corner coffee shop, you realize you are visiting with a real person and a great friend.

Madeline
8 years ago

Not all Angels are in heaven some are here on earth. I know that our grandfather who took a chance coming to this country from Europe, plus our dad would be so proud of what you have accomplished. You have kept the tradition of good workmanship, honesty and treating each customer special and with dignity. Even all the dogs on the hill love walking by your shop waiting for their treat. I don’t think there is a person on Capitol Hill who dosen’t know you and respect you. It’s so true Everyone Loves Raymond!!

margaret
8 years ago

Even before we got to be friends, I saw that you were the center of this community, indeed ensuring that we have community here.

Bonnie
8 years ago

Nice party to celebrate such a long standing family shoe repair. Seems the past is still present! Best to you in the future. Good article, thanks.