"Sole Man" reviving shoes with an old time craft

Posted at 8:24 AM, Jan 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-08 12:32:44-05

An antique shoe made in England 60 years ago could find new life in Buffalo at Sole Man on Elmwood Avenue. Since doors opened last month to Buffalo's newest cobbler shop, owner Brian Gavigan has been working round the clock. 

"We re-craft shoes and fix people's shoes that need new soles or heels," said Gavigan. "We bring them back to life. They're quality shoes."

Gavigan said he's been a handy man since he could remember. He'd hem his own pants, cut his hair and turn his winter boots into sandals. 

"It's a passion about quality and finding something deeper than just the surface and preserving it," said Gavigan. 

On Father's Day Gavigan told his wife and kids that he'd leave his full time job to open a cobbler shop. Just six months later by the end of December he was up and running. 

"It's been a passion that evolved since I was a kid and you just get to a point where everything just clicks," said Gavigan. 

It was no easy task to set up shop in the Elmwood Village. Gavigan's machinery is nearly 100 years old. One machine that strips and shines shoes is 11 feet long and nearly 2,000 pounds. 

Another unique part of Gavigan's shop is something you'll see hanging on the wall. 

"The original shoe repair shop on Elmwood in 1915 was Perfection Shoe Repair," said Gavigan. "I was fortunate enough to claim the sign and display it proudly in here."

The sign reads "perfection," and symbolizes the way Sole Man was born said Gavigan. He credits his success to perfect timing and perfect blessings. 

If you walk up the wooded staircase inside the shop you'll find retail space with vintage bags, coats, hats, belts and more.

Gavigan sells some unisex items but most of the apparel and shoes are for men. When it comes to repairs he can fix anything.  

"Customers come in knowing they purchased a well made shoe but want to get more life out of it," said Gavigan. "Once they start burning holes through their soles they bring them here."

He's constantly on the lookout for quality shoes. Gavigan finds some of his antiques in thrift shops locally and across the country with help from a few of his "shoe shoppers."

Sole Man is open five days a week. It's closed on Wednesdays and Sundays. More information can be found here, on Sole Man's Facebook page. 





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