Cobbler Maintains Only Shoe Repair Shop in Franklin County


FRANKLIN CO, Pa. During the Great Depression, there were about 120,000 shoe repair shops nationwide, but today there are less than 6,000 and in Franklin County there is only one.

Robert Dresch owns and operates Rob’s Shoe Repair and Orthotics in downtown Chambersburg, the only store of its kind in the county.

"We’ve been well-received coming downtown,” said Robert, who has been repairing shoes for 20 years. “A lot of people are excited to see an actual shoe repair back in Chambersburg. It's been missing a show repair for about seven years."

Robert's shop is scattered with all sorts of shoe repair machines, some dating back to the mid-1900s. Back then, cobblers were in high demand. But today, due to the rise of cheap footwear, people are opting to buy rather than fix.

Shoe repair is also a specialty that requires a constant up-keep of skill as well. Something that has driven some cobblers out of the business, according to Dresch.

"It’s always changing,” said Robert. “You've got to pretty much keep up with the different styles. The way shoes are being made these days, repairing them is a lot different than it was say 25 years ago."

But despite the hardships, Robert says his business is going strong. He has been building up a clientele of people who want to save their shoes. He says it doesn't make sense to throw out high-quality shoes.

"Why do that? You spend, say 25, 35, maybe even 40 bucks for a pair of shoes,” said Robert. “It's a lot cheaper to have a heel replaced for 12, 14 dollars."

That message makes sense to the thrifty.

"[Getting my shoes repaired] is purely economics,” said Chambersburg resident Frank Frame. “$50 beats $300 any day."

But for Robert, it is not just about the money.

"I look at it as helping people,” said Robert. “I enjoy especially the smile on someone's face when they pick up their shoes."

Rob's Shoe Repair also does custom orthotics and fixes purses, belts and other accessories.

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