Making a ‘good business even better’

Shoe repair brought back to downtown Marshall

Photo by Jim Muchlinski Brenda Krog and her husband, Chad, have added shoe repair to their list of enterprises based at Mid-West Cleaners in downtown Marshall. They contract with several cobblers in the region who have many years of shoe repair experience.

MARSHALL — The same leatherworking skills that once formed the basis of success for harness makers are back on West Main Street in Marshall through a new shoe repair venture.

Chad and Brenda Krog, owners of Mid-West Cleaners, have launched a shoe repair service after hearing about public demand. The shoe repair is the latest addition to a business that encompasses dry cleaning, carpet cleaning, snow removal, sewing, wedding dress fittings and other enterprises.

“If something has potential, we’ll consider it,” Brenda said. “Cleaning is our specialty. We’ll do almost any kind of cleaning project.”

Brenda handles the bulk of in-store activity. Chad spends most of his time completing on-site services at the homes or businesses of customers.

Shoe repair was planned with input from several cobblers in the region who have specialized for many years in keeping valued pairs of shoes in good condition.

“We can do all the basic repairs with heels, zippers, soles, stitching, cleaning and polishing,” Krog said. “Sometimes it needs to involve specialized leather sewing or stretching. In those cases we outsource it.”

She said there was enthusiasm for the formation of a 21st century shoe repair business network that could generate activity for both a craftsman and the business that refers customers.

Shoe repairs remain a good option whenever there’s a need to preserve the integrity of well-manufactured footwear. It often proves cost effective when compared to buying a new alternative.

“One of the biggest factors that work in favor of repairs is that many people have at least one favorite pair,” Krog said. “They like how it looks and how it fits.”

The question of whether or not a shoe can be repaired in a way that will last often depends on how the sole and heel are made.

If they’re combined into one piece, as they are in most rubber soled models, repairs aren’t likely to be effective. With two pieces, the cobbler can simply re-attach loose or broken off pieces.

So far shoe repair projects have grown to a point that they make up about 10 percent of the overall business activity at Mid-West Cleaners. Brenda said the share is likely to increase as more customers look into the repair potential.

“It’s doing well for something we just recently started,” she said. “It’s likely to grow to about 20 percent in its second year. Shoe repair matches up well with what we offer in other sewing for high school letter jackets and bridal dresses.”

Chad and Brenda took over Mid-West Cleaners 33 years ago from her parents, Bob and Mavis Walbran, who called the business Bob’s One Hour Cleaners. The Walbrans moved to Marshall when they purchased the business from Jerry and Karen Rund after operating a skating rink in Worthington.

The Krogs first met when Brenda moved to Marshall. Chad delivered a couch to her home from his employer at the time, Furniture Land, which was located on East College Drive.

Since then, they’ve found that success in a Main Street business is a practical goal, especially if customer needs are met with both good quality workmanship and friendly service.

“Recommendations from others are one of the best ways to get new business,” Brenda said. “If a family member or friend recommends us, it leads to a lot of new opportunities. Owners can succeed if they understand what customers want, and also if they know how to work.”

Marshall Chamber of Commerce President Brad Gruhot said Mid-West Cleaners is an example of many Marshall businesses that have stood the test of time.

“Chad and Brenda are always interested in adding to their list of services,” Gruhot said. “They’re willing to innovate in ways that make a good business even better.”