Young man finds his calling in lost art of leatherwork and shoe repair

Louie Domerese learned a pretty important lesson at an early age: Not what he wanted to do, but what he didn’t want to do.

Domerese found work as soon as he could, working in a desk job at just 16 years old. But almost as soon as he started, Domerese realized that life at a desk wasn’t for him. He hated sitting there, he says. He wanted to move around, to make stuff and work with his hands.

So, with all of the gumption of a 16 year old, Domerese walked into Shorty’s Shoe Repair and asked for a job, not knowing how to do the job per se, only knowing that he wanted something different. He learned as he went, and he got pretty good at it, too.Louie Domerse, owner of Louie's Leatherworks and Shoe Repair.

Eight years later and Domerese has opened his own Midland shoe repair shop. He celebrated the grand opening of Louie’s Leatherworks and Shoe Repair in April 2019.

"The thing I like about it is that no job is the same. There are millions of types of shoes and there’s always something different to do," Domerese says.

"The second thing is that I’ve become part of this international group of cobblers. It’s like a really big family. If I have a question, they help me out, teach me and share ideas."

Domerese can fix any number of styles of shoes, from high-quality leather boots to modern day sneakers. He also repairs other items, like purses and luggage. Beyond leatherworking, Domerese works with upholstered and canvas items, from boat seat covers to awnings.

He says that he is also planning to have his own line of shoes some time in the next couple of years.

It’s a bit of a lost art, shoe repair. Domerese is passionate about letting people know that shoes not thought to be fixable are usually quite the opposite. Repairs are typically less expensive than purchasing a new pair of shoes, and it’s better for the environment, too.

"Everyone wants to recycle plastic and ban straws,” Domerese says. “But no one thinks about all of the shoes thrown away each year that end up in landfills. Many things can be repaired to return back to working condition."

Louie’s Leatherworks and Shoe Repair is located at 1529 Washington St. in Midland.

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