Authorized Birkenstock Repair Shop

Damaged Birkenstocks
Are the soles of your Birkenstock's starting to look like this?
Repaired Birkenstocks
Central Shoe Repair can make your old Birkenstock's look and feel like new.

The best quality shoes wear out. The most comfortable shoes wear out. Let an authorized Birkenstock Repair cobbler mend the soles, replace the instep, or restitch the seams, and give your Birkenstocks new life.

Vibram Authorized Dealer

You've spent too much for your shoes to throw them away. Let a Vibram Authorized Dealer repair them. Whether your lifestyle lends itself to casual, rugged, outdoor, or dress footwear, your Vibram Authorized Dealer can select the right Vibram product for you.

Vibram products are known for their performance, comfort and durability. In fact, the Vibram name is the most widely recognized and respected soling brand in the world. It's your assurance of the best.

Traditional Shoe Repair Shop

As a family-owned business, we have been repairing shoes for over fifty years. Generations of experience contribute to the quality craftsmanship Central Shoe Repair is known for. Charlie, our professional repair exper,t has a commitment to quality and can quickly identify unique problems. He is also skilled at creating custom designed lifts and modifications to meet your needs.

We repair Rockports, Johnston and Murphy, Cole Haan, Florsheim, Timberland, Dexter, Red Wing and Allen Edmonds shoes with genuine Vibram products.
You may send your shoes directly to Central Shoe Repair. Please include a note describing the work that you would like done. Please include a telephone number where you can be reached during the day in case we have any questions regarding your shoes. A $9.50 shipping and handling fee will be added to all repairs under $70.00. If you would like an estimate, please let us know.

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Expert DyingHeels & solesBuff & PolishInsertsOrthopedic Work

Contact Information

Central Shoe Repair
50 Central Street
Ipswich, MA 01938
Toll Free: 1-888-460-SHOE (1-888-460-7463)
Please telephone us with any questions.

Wendy Evans, Ipswich Chronicle, January 21, 1999

Charlie Tsoutsouras is the only cobbler in Ipswich. In the area, even. He's been in the business almost 50 years, since the age of 12. Stepping into his Central Street shop, the smell of shoe polish and glue permeate the air. Rows of shoes are neatly tagged and ready for owners to claim them. The cash register is vintage. The highest dollar amount it registers is $1.95, testimony to what it cost to fix shoes 50 years ago.

A lifelong resident of Ipswich, Tsoutsouras has been married to Bette, a high School English teacher, for 16 years. The couple has three daughters, Deahn, Lori and Mia and five grandchildren.

Q.What's it like being a cobbler?

My father was a cobbler and we lived here in this building. He had a heart attack and passed away when I was 12, the youngest of five children. My mother started taking in the shoes, and my brother George, who was 14, and I repaired them after school. There was some trial and error at first. Some things didn't come out right but people gave us a break because we were kids and realized the situation we were in.

In 1947, Social Security was there but my father wasn't under it. My mother wasn't covered so she had to keep the family going somehow. My father had a friend who had done shoe repairs and he showed us how to do some of it. We didn't do a lot of business in those days.

Q. How many cobblers were in town then?

Four full-time in Ipswich. At that time, everyone had their shoes fixed. In the 40s and 50s everyone had one pair of shoes. You worked in your shoes, played in your shoes and went to church in your shoes.

Q. Do people fix their shoes today?

One-quarter of the people have their shoes repaired now compared to the 40s when we started. Now customers come from Rowley, Topsfield, Groveland, towns that no longer have cobbler shops. In about 10 years there will be one cobbler from New Hampshire to Salem. There will always be somebody to do it but far fewer than in the past.

Q. I see you sell shoes too.

To keep the business viable, I've had to expand into the clog business. I started seven or eight years ago. I get calls from all over because I've got a Web page. This morning someone called from New Jersey. I've sold clogs to people in most of the 50 states and in Germany and England.

Q. Why don't people there buy them locally?

They may live in communities that don't sell this type of clog. I sell wooden clogs, Sven. doctors, nurses, people who work in restaurants use them. They're balanced anatomically for feet. I can wear them all day with no foot fatigue.

We custom fit clogs, too. If people have one foot that is an E width and the other is EE, we can fit them correctly to the foot without the person buying a larger size.

Q. How have shoes changed over the years?

Now, most everything is done out of the country. Shoes aren't the quality they used to be years ago. Shoes that used to cost $50 or $60 now sell for $300. I wouldn't mind paying the price if the quality was there, but it's not.

Q. Has the popularity of sneakers hurt your business?

About 10 years ago, sneakers started making a difference. Fifteen years ago kids wore sneakers for gym or to the beach. A woman customer used to have the heels on her shoes repaired once a month. All of a sudden, she stoped coming. I wondered what I did and thought she must have gotten mad at me for something. Then one day I saw her and noticed instead of wearing loafers, she was wearing sneakers.

I began seeing people walking around everywhere in sneakers instead of shoes. When I took the trains into Boston, every woman had sneakers on. Sneakers killed the women's heel business. Most cobbler shops do 30 percent less work than they did 15 year ago. That's why I got into clogs.

Q. Do people repair their sneakers?

Not many. But I do a fair amoung of orthopedic work on them, like if one heel needs to be higher than the other.

Q. Have you met any unusual people in this business?

Nice, patient, impatient, interesting and weird people. Forty years ago a lady came in and asked if I could repair her girdle. I said I can do a lot of things but I can't do that. People have asked me to repair their lawn chairs, dye a pair of black boots white for a bride, fix a window shade, all kinds of things.

Someone with the arm ripped off a leather jacket asked if I could fix it. Just because it's something leather, they think they can take it to the cobbler to have it repaired. Once a dog chewed the top of a shoe right off. The owner brought it to me and said,"Can you do anything with this?"

Q. What are the ups and downs of your job?

I've never had another job. I've never had to punch a timeclock or had anyone tell me I can't sit and talk with a friend. I don't have to answer to anyone.

If I have a doctor's appointment, my sister can watch the store. If she's busy, I put a sign on the door. On purpose I picked a dentist in Boston. It's a treat for me to go into the city. If I'm not too busy, I go to Chinatown for dim sum or do some shopping. I try to sneak in some little thing while I'm in the city.

Q. What tools do you use?

Old Singer patching macnines, normal stitching machines.

Q. How long does it take to resole a shoe?

Resoling or reheeling a shoe takes 25 or 30 minutes.

Q. What are the best kind of shoes you can buy?

For an ordinary guy, Florsheim shoes. They used to cost $40 or $50 but now they cost $250 or $300. If men take care of their shoes, pay $250 and wear them for five or six or seven years, it's not a lot of money. If you spend $70 or $100, and they aren't really comfortable, they're not good shoes in the long run. But you get what you pay for. Not everyone can come home in Ferragamos.

I've been in stores and see $25 women's shoes. They're nice looking, but when you pick them up and see how they're constructed and that they're made in China, you know they won't last.

Q. What are some expensive shoes you repair?

People come in with Belgian shoes. They're made in Belgium, and their only outlet store in the country is in New York City. The shoes are fine leather, lined and beautifully sewn. Five years ago, they started at $175.

When someone brought me the first pair of Belgian shoes to repair, I called the Belgian shoe store in New York City and asked what materials they used. They didn't want me to do the repairs at first, but I told them I was a pretty good cobbler and if they sent me a pair that needed repairing and I did a good job with them, would they consider making me an authorized repair place?

They agreed, I repaired them, and they said I had done a great job. Now I'm an authorized repair dealer of Belgian shoes. I put it on all my ads. I'm also an authorized repair place for Stegmann clogs and Birkenstock Sandals.

Q. Have you had any close calls with the fire engines pulling out of the station across the street?

It's a problem. Out front there is a no-parking zone. If someone stops and plans to run in, I try to keep my eye out. If the fire department door starts to open, I tell them to move their care quickly.

There was a time when they had a problem backing the ladder truck into the fire station. The ladder kept hitting the door. They had to shore the driveway up and then make a dip in it so the ladder truck could back in and miss the door.

Halloween 2004 at Central Shoe Repair (Pappou's Shop)

Pappou. January 18, 2012


John Dolan, Ipswich Chronicle, January 12, 1995

A recent telehphone inquiry about the name of a former Ipswich shoe manufacturer has prompter me to put forward this brief summary of shoe making and shoe reapiring shops.

This recent picture of the Central Shoe Repair Shop is an illustrrtion of the last such business in Ipswich. It is also one of the oldest small business enterprises conducted by the sam family in Ipswich today. It is nowoperated by Costas Tsoutsouras.

Skipping back over the old pages of our local history, we find these pertinent references from Felt's History: "Cordwainer 1664. Wm. Buckley, 1831. 17,000 pair of shoes made annually. $15,640, employed one hundred and eight-one hands. 3,200 pair of boots, $9,600, occupaying twelve workmen. 1833-Fourteen permanent boot and shoe makers who hire considerable number of jouneymen."

From Water's History: "Pertaining to trades and employments of the 18th century 'the cordwainer' too, was a valued member of the community. In the mid-century there were John and Joseph Brown, Jr., Edmund, Nathaniel and Samual Heard, Jeremiah Chapman, John Hodgkins and Joseph Hodgkins, the Revolutionary colonel of later days. Daniel Lord and Lieut. Isaac Martin, who were known and styled 'cordwainers' or shoemakers, and probably gave all their time to their trade."

Moving along with time we find in the Agawam Manual and Directory of 1891 as indexed in the business directory the following: "Shoe Maders and Repairs: Baker, John H. opp 42 High St.; Bucklin, AK, Winter; Hodgdon, FE, Mt. Pleasant; Holland, John P., Market; Manning, Wm. E, County-Willcomb's Square; Pike, ET, Central; Rutherford, R with SH Thurston; Tucker, James A. Market-Union."

The ads of some of these also appear in the manual. Most of the foregoing are also listed in the Directory of the Town of Ipswich in 1896.

A review of the Ipswich Directory of 1947-1950 brings us into closer modern times of our memories and recollections of those then listed as engaged in shoe repairing such as: "Michael Bombardien, 43 Market St.; George T. H. Sotiropoulos, 33 Brownville Ave.; John Tsoutsouras, 54 Central St.; Augustus Vlahos, 32 South Main St."

A quick look into the Ipswich Directory for 1950-1960 found much the same listing as above except that John Tsoutsouras is listed as "Central Shoe Repair" and Nicholas Chinopoulos is designated as "Goodyear Shoe Repair." So Today only Central Shoe Repair remains. We always called them "Cobbler Shops" and knew them well.

All the way from 1664 and up to the present, it appears that all of the "cordwainers" in each and every century in historic Ipswich held much in common. They were men of vision and ambition, saw the opportunities available to them, bravely and boldly grasped the moment and moved with the progress of Ipswich.

They didn't wait around for a committee to reach a local conscensus or for the rules and retulations of government to assist or approve them. They took upon themselves the full spirit of independence and secured their own freedom.

Above all else, they were honestly successful in their own enterprises, provided well for their own families and helped to build the town of Ipswich.

As our town looks ahead and plans for its future, a parting word from Felt's History may be appropriate and worth considering once again:

"In proportion as these flourish in any place, so does its prosperity abound. They are arts essential to the comfort of society and should never be frowned on so long as they are useful... So with any honest occupation. It is not the trade which dignifies the mechanic, but he, if worthy, who dignifies his trade."

Cobbler shops have been an important part of the historic prosperity,comfort and customs of Ipswich.

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