Meet Your Merchant: Cherishing the craft
Alberto Garcia appears to be one of the last of his breed, at least in the Carson City area.
The cobbler and leather worker runs Alberto’s Boot and Shoe Repair, 1987 N. Carson St. No. 25, where he boasts of giving old, worn boots a “second life,” along with selling and mending other leather gear. He said he’s searched for help and apprentices for his craft but hit roadblocks of workers not wanting to get dirty or work their hands.
“I even tried the unemployment office, looking for injured people, and try to get them to learn the trade,” he said. “And they don’t want to.”
Garcia himself learned the profession from his uncles as a boy and he was the only family member to continue it. With his two daughters going into the medical field, he jokes that he’ll have to wait for the grandkids before continuing the tradition.
For why Garcia continues his work, the answer is simple: The look on people’s faces when old shoes become new, or orthopedic shoes become wearable.
“When I finish and they say, ‘Oh! Thank you so much!’ it means more than money,” he said.
He keeps a tight-and-tidy repair studio hidden in the back of his shop, where he grinds, polishes and stitches leather together. He said he spends hours back there after store hours, toiling away.
He said his sales of pre-made leather items have been slower in the downturn, with people stretching out the life of their current gear. Garcia boasts that the leather products he sells will last a lifetime, which makes it harder for consumers to justify replacing when them when times are tough. But on the flip of that, his repair work has been up.
Which if fine with Garcia, who said he regularly spends longer on repairs than he charges just because he likes the work and the results.
He held up a gun belt, with well-worn groves in the bullet slots and shows where the threading had worn away, and which he replaced.
“It’s old, but it’s good leather,” he said. “It will last forever.”
He explained his theory on repairs further when a customer came in looking cleaning solution and started asking if her cheaper shoes were worth repairing.
“If a shoe cost $5 but it is comfortable, get it repaired,” Garcia told her. “If the shoe cost $1,000, but is uncomfortable, don’t repair that one.”
Buying quality saves you money in the long run, he said, but if you like something and it can be fixed, you might as well keep it around.
Meet Your Merchant
Alberto’s Boot and Shoe Repair repairs all manner of leather goods and sells new leather goods, from motorcycle chaps to horse saddles, as well. It also sells orthopedic shoes and insoles and cleaning supplies.
General prices: $12 to repair a shoe heel; about $75 for a complete refurbishing of a work boot (prices are subject to scope and complexity of the work. Call for a more accurate estimate.)
Address: 987 N. Carson St. No. 25, Carson City.
For more information: 883-7750.