Snow Is Boon to City's Cobblers

Winter-weary New Yorkers aren't the only ones reaching their breaking point.

Footwear has been put to the test this season with salt, snow and ice threatening soles, seams and all manner of shoe material. But the brisk weather also brings brisk business.

Manuel Chuva of Drago Shoe Repair in Soho said this winter has been especially destructive on shoes because of the mix of deep snow and heavy ice.  Chuva said when salt absorbs into a shoe it can actually crack the sole and permanently deface finer leathers and suedes.

"The problem is the salt goes inside the shoes and things break right away," Chuva said.

Vincent Rao of the Village Cobbler at Sullivan and Prince Streets said the continual snowfall has been keeping customers away for now, but there will be a big pay off in the end.

"I'm estimating that probably there will be a big turnout as soon as all this snow and ice disappears from the sidewalks because I believe that the damage is there -- it's out there," Rao said.  

If you care about a particular pair of shoes, he said, ignore your inner fashionista for a few months.

"Forget about the fashion for the time being," Rao said, "because any type of good, expensive shoes you use during this type of weather will definitely get damaged no matter what you do."

Rao said spraying shoes with a water-resistant seal can help minimize damage.  But if you really care about a pair of shoes, Rao said don't even wear them out in snow.