Just over 33 years ago this December, Broadway Shoe Repair began serving the community of Capitol Hill. Founder Ward Luhman would continue to own and run his business until this summer. During the last six years of her father’s ownership, Shelly Luhman worked an apprenticeship leading up to her taking over the leather repair shop in Broadway Market. Ward can finally rest and enjoy a well earned retirement. Broadway Shoe Repair, on the other… hand, still has work to do.
Since September, Luhman and her business partner Bobby Glukhov who joined the shop after moving from Portland four year ago, have been working to keep Capitol Hill’s shoes looking good.
The shop has seen “steady” repair business and return clients even as the neighborhood has grown more and more expensive. Of course, all that wealth has a side benefit to a business like Broadway Shoe Repair.
The biggest change the business has seen over its more than three decades, Luhman says, is “an increase of more expensive shoes.”
THANKS! WE DID IT! 1,000 CHS SUBSCRIBERS -- We asked, you answered. Thanks for stepping up!
Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.
Longtime customers, especially those with less fancy shoes, remain an important priority for Luhman. She says she hopes that part of the business her father started to keep going strong.
Though many folks are being displaced from the Hill because of rising costs, “when people come back to Seattle,” they make a point to stop by the Broadway repair shop, Luhman says. Some customers, she says, have been coming to Broadway Shoe Repair since before she was born.
Luhman’s shop has managed to stick around through changes on Broadway and in the retail building it calls home. In 2015, grocery-focused real estate investment company Regency Centers Corporation paid $43 million for the Broadway Market. More changes in the mix at the shopping center are all but guaranteed as the retail industry shifts.
In the meantime, the shop has also stuck around through the years thanks to its flexibility.
Luhman says Broadway Shoe Repair “doesn’t just fix shoes” but also can help with “all kinds of leatherwork, purses, bags, belts, luggage and also custom works per request.
“Broadway Shoe Repair is very willing to take on special requests, essentially we try to not say no to anything,” Luhman said.
Other parts of the shoe repair grind never change. The shop is still open seven days a week just as it always has been. It has also managed to survive with a crew of only four workers — and sometimes fewer — over the years. Finding people with experience repairing shoes is an ongoing challenge, Luhman said. One way Broadway Shoe Repair has addressed the challenge is offering paid internships.
Being a part of repairing people’s most-loved shoes on Capitol Hill can make you a most-loved part of the community. Many on Broadway mourned the passing of Mitch Caddy in 2015. Caddy had been cobbler at the shop for 24 years. He was remembered by Broadway Shoe Repair closing for the day, a rare closure amid those many years of the daily grind.
You’ll find Broadway Shoe Repair at 815 E Republican in the Broadway Market. Learn more at facebook.com/broadwayshoerepairseattle.