A Place Called Home

Admin April 26, 2019

A place called Home

We moved into our space at 7015 N Greeley just before new year's 2018.

Prior to this rare opportunity to own a retail storefront and family home all in one. I had been a renter. I didn't aspire toward ownership with its responsibilities and performance.

As a Portland tenant i the 1980s and 90s, there were plenty of homes I could afford to share with friends and family, and I didn't honestly think it would ever be different.

It did get different. When I opened JD's Shoe Repair in 2009, my beloved north Portland neighborhoods were rapidly inaccessible to the people who had enlivened and enriched them for decades. For me, with the help of my mentors at MicroEnterprise Services of Oregon (MESO) and my community, my first two spaces were affordable and well situated.

Having stable housing for my family and the business has been a critical factor in my ability to establish shoe repair as a regular feature of my neighborhood. I want to stay here, now, more than I ever have. I feel that on a personal level; and on the professional level I am cultivating my shoe repair shop as a genuine resource in the community

As an “old Portlander” I feel responsible for doing my part to contribute to this place, the interesting quirky green town I fell for in the 80s. Shoe repair is not glamorous. It’s dirty and physically demanding and we literally make the house payment by doing a whole lot of $15 jobs every month. The old time cobblers told me the truth when they said it’s a modest living; they said it will never make you rich, but you’ll meet a lot of good people and you’ll get to work for yourself.

So here we are. As a first time property owner in the second year, I can mostly say we exist. We’re here. I have a vision of the place being artfully curated, a place people can meet to talk about what’s important to us or learn new skills. I want my building to be beautiful and strong, for shoe repair to thrive.

That is why I was so excited to hear about the Lester Viles North Portland Project Association (http://lvnppa.org/). Last year I applied for and was awarded a grant to construct a shoe-shaped weather vane for the building. It’s in progress right now, and we’ll be placing it atop the structure this spring to show us which way the wind blows.

The weather vane symbolizes the kind of permanence I have been cultivating with JD’s Shoe Repair, a handcrafted piece of art that serves a practical purpose. It’s an invitation to come check out the space. More art and craft will be coming, and some much needed improvements as we are able.

We’ll be here fixing all the shoes for a long time. It’s my commitment to the neighborhoods and town that support shoe repair in the first place, to stick around and be a positive thoughtful presence. There is so much to love about Portland, about shoes, about the process of raising a small business to maturity.

There are many opportunities to collaborate with talented, energetic, focused people who feel the same way about Portland and what we all do. Stay tuned for more stories here about projects and some of the amazing folks we know. Get in touch (jdshoerepair@gmail.com, instagram @jdshoerepair) if you have ideas and resources you want to share.

The Lester Viles North Portland Project Association grant cycle is right now: the deadline for applications is the end of May. Check out the process and the other projects they’ve supported toward making north Portland communities thrive.