South side shoe cobbler closes shop after 62 years

Posted at 6:14 PM, Oct 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 08:49:14-04

There are only a handful of cobblers in the Greater Milwaukee Area, and unfortunately, after November 30 there will be one less shop open.

The Cobbler Shoe Service at S. 8th St. and Oklahoma Ave. is closing up shop after 62 years in business. Owner Peter Gerasopoulos says he's not excited to retire because he's worried about his customers. 

"I'm sad because I got strong relationships with my customers and I feel sorry for them," he said. 

His wife, Judy Gerasopoulos, says she's proud of him.

For 50 years the couple worked side by side. During the 1960s and 1970s, Cobbler Shoe Service had eight full-time employees and one part-time employee, Peter's younger brother.

But, Peter says in the late 80s tennis shoes became popular. Since sneakers needed less work than shoes with leather soles, the shop had to downsize, turning into more of a mom and pop operation.

But customers like Peggy Brown didn't mind.

"Oh, I love it," said Brown. "It's great, it's the way things outta be. You get to smile at people that are good. Pete does an awesome job."

Gerasopoulos says the best part of his job is just doing it and the customers, but in a month the doors will close for good.

Customers like Kristin Seaberg feel mixed on the news. 

"I think that's great," said Seaberg. "I'm sad though because I don't know where I'll take my shoes."

Gerasopoulos has been a cobbler since he was 8-years-old. He says his father taught him in Greece. Then in 1956, he immigrated to America and soon after setting up shop. 

"My wife is with me for 50 years," said Gerasopoulos. "We got the cash register for 50 years. The store 62 years, so we didn't change much."

Gerasopoulos says there's very little he can complain about. He laughs talking about the time The Rolling Stones came to his shop. He says Mick Jagger and his drummer came in to get the drummer's shoes fixed, but Gerasopoulos didn't have a clue who they were. 

"I tell them, I can make it but they're gonna be a little expensive," he said. "I thought they was motorcycle guys and they didn't have the money."

He says he soon learned who the men were, but was more concerned about making sure that their check cleared.

For six days a week, Judy Gerasopoulos will handle the customers, sewing and all the phone calls. Meanwhile, Peter Gerasopoulos will cobble hundreds of different pairs of shoes, that is, until November 30.