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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cobbler carries on family business

By Marisol Díaz
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Boots and shoes waiting to be fixed.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
George Kourakos repairs a heel on a boot.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Shoe stretchers of various sizes are laid out on a shelf.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
A shoe press machine is used to install a heel.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
George Kourakos fixes a woman’s bag. It will be donated to the homeless at the Midnight Run he will be participating in on June 20th.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Recycled pocketbook straps.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
A wall of old bobbins and a spool of thread from a prior sewing machine.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Work counter with a man's dress shoe and a shoe last.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
A cobbler's tools including a hammer, clippers and spoon.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
The side of the counter at Chris Shoe Repair on 507 West 236th St. bears well wishes from the owner’s son Joey, his daughter Nicole and his niece Kristen.
My father
Choose to stay
Style Conscious
Everybody knew
It does not pay
The right choice
Three generations
My kids

Chris Kourakos opened Chris Shoe Repair at 507 West 236th Street in 1968. His father taught him the craft, which he passed on to his son and current owner, George Kourakos. He began learning the art of cobbling during after-school hours when he was 12. Later in life, he signed up for the NYPD, but was laid off after three years in 1976 during the city’s budget crisis during then-Mayor Abraham Beame’s administration. Around the same time, his father became ill and George took over the business. Chris Kourakos passed away at the age of 66.

George Kourakos has updated the equipment he uses at the shoe repair shop, but it still holds many of the original items his father used 46 years ago. When asked if he felt his father’s presence in the location, he simply pointed to a black-and-white photo of the man hanging near the counter.


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