Heart and Sole: City's last cobbler is retiring

Terry Moss has been Owensboro’s only cobbler since 2016, when Don Raines died and his Raines Shoe Hospital closed.

But Moss turns 65 on June 18.

And he’ll be retiring and closing the doors to Moss Shoe Repair, 1216 Triplett St., after 45 years in business.

“I’ll stop taking in shoes to repair on Nov. 1,” he said.

Moss bought the business from his grandfather, Jesse Frakes.

There were eight shoe repair businesses in town back then, he said.

Moss’ business is for sale.

And he hopes to find a buyer who will continue repairing shoes there.

“I’ll train the person if they need to be trained,” he said.

Moss said, “I’d like to keep the building and just rent it.”

But if nobody is interested in keeping a shoe repair shop in Owensboro, he said, there’s still two in Evansville and one in Bowling Green.

Moss Shoe Repair is open to the public on Monday through Wednesday.

But Moss works every day but Sunday.

“I get more work done when the doors aren’t open,” he said.

Moss estimates that he still repairs about 1,000 shoes a quarter — 4,000 a year.

More than 200,000 shoes

The numbers were higher in his early days in business and Moss estimates that he’s repaired more than 200,000 pairs of shoes through the years.

He started putting gospel tracts in each pair of shoes he repaired when he was 29.

And Moss had been repairing shoes 10 years before then.

“I was 19 years old when I bought the business from my grandfather” Moss said. “I had worked with him 10 years before that, sweeping floors at first. When I was 13, he let me start putting on heels.”

He said, “I started hanging around here with my grandfather when I was about 9.”

There are still fond memories of watching his grandfather work and getting to go to a nearby grocery to get Goo Goo Clusters.

Moss said, “I do a lot of build-ups for people who have one leg shorter than the other. Sometimes, it’s the result of an accident or surgery or sometimes, they’re born that way.”

There are a lot of people in the area who have one leg shorter than the other, he said.

“I make the sole thicker on the shoe for the shorter leg,” he said. “Sometimes I do 12 a week. I’ve got eight here right now. I could stay busy just doing build-ups. I’ll keep doing them until I sell the business.”

Moss also sells both Western and work boots and he has a good inventory still in stock.

Despite a lot of cheap shoes on the market today, he said, “The business is still good. I do a lot more glue jobs these days. But I fix a lot of good shoes and boots too.”

Moss said, “I used to repair purses, coats, almost anything leather, but I don’t any more. I turn down three or four jobs a day. I just don’t have the time. I work by myself.”

He said, “I give God all the glory for my life. I survived colon cancer and kidney cancer. He kept me here for a reason.”

Moss said, “I’ll stay busy with my church and helping people.”

Then, he said with a grin, “I’d like to find a 9 to 5 job Monday through Friday that’s not much work.”