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Friday May 26, 2017
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Park Shoe Repair fills a niche

 

continued

polishes, inserts, laces, and other shoe accessories.)

Roberts says he and Thomas chose this particular shoe inventory because they don't want to compete with any other downtown merchants yet wanted to fill the space with merchandise rather than tired, broken footwear. But Roberts really wants to sell Alden shoes, a fine men's dress shoe made in New England. He says it's "slightly higher up the ladder than Allen Edmonds," the Wisconsin-based company that's a more familiar brand in the Midwest, and it's unavailable in Ann Arbor. He needs to order twenty-five pairs for his first buy, so he's offering a large discount to the first twenty-five men who preorder Alden shoes.

Roberts and Thomas have ripped out and reconfigured a wall and counter that had obscured a delicate wood and cast iron Victorian-era fireplace. It's not exactly showcased--the room could use a paint job, and there are some holes in the wall above it--but the mint-condition fireplace is a gracious and unexpected focal point. They also have a walk-in safe from the same era, an ornate, black steel affair with "Detroit Safe Company" stenciled in gold paint on the inside door. They use it to store their inventory of heels and soles.

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