Mission Cobbler Wins Award, Looks Back Over 40 Years of Shoe Repair – Mission City Record

Aafter more than 40 years in the shoemaking business, Mission’s last shoemaker says his passion for the trade lives on.

Last month, Arnold Atsma received the 2021 Business Excellence Customer Service Award from the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The crowd erupted in applause when his name was announced.

“I was really impressed with that – the shoe shiner got a big round of applause,” Atsma said. “It was quite an honor.”

Atsma has lived in Mission since 1978 and has owned Arnold’s Shoe Repair on 1st Avenue since 1983, but he hasn’t always worked with shoes. He has already worked in the sawmills “on the bleds”.

He only started the trade in 1980, shortly after his brother opened his own shoemaking shop in Abbotsford.

He was 30 at the time.

“I thought ‘Hey, this is a job that could do well,'” Atsma said, adding that he sometimes misses working outside, except when it’s cold and freezing.

He said there were actually two other cobblers in Mission when he opened his store.

“Oh my God, they were everywhere!” Atsma said. “Now I’m the only one left.”

He said there’s a lot less work these days, but he still finds plenty of jobs fixing everything from work boots and ladies’ shoes to coats and handbags – “the nine meters”.

Most of the shoes worn today are made overseas from cheap materials and not worth repairing, Atsma said, but his passion for work keeps him coming back every day.

He said he had made many connections to the community over the years and even remembered the customers from his childhood.

“It’s the work itself. Most people are quite satisfied,” Atsma said.

“I like helping people, fixing things and working with my hands. So everything went well for me. »

And the trade of shoemaker still has life. Atsma has an apprentice who arrives on Friday and jokes that he might one day be able to take a day off.

Mission

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