Who needs elves?

Local shoemaker Peter King (photo by Bill Mortley)

It has happened to you or someone you know.  Traipsing through Castries city, your eyes widen in disbelief.  You bow your head in amazement.  Utter shock fills your being.  Ladies, the strap on your shoe popped or guys the sole of your shoe is laughing at you.  With pride in tow, you hold your head high, take a deep breath and either run to the nearest shoe store or shoemaker you can find, all the while praying no one notices your awkward canter.

Peter King can recall a number of these incidents where he has had to be the lifeline for the weary and recently humbled.  Originally from Marchand, this 35-year-old has been a shoemaker for just under a decade.

The STAR caught up with him on his daily grind on High Street, opposite Sam’s Chicken Van.  He was dutifully going about his work as he related his story.  We were amazed at how he multitasked-intricately sewing a woman’s shoe and keenly chatting with us.
Peter was 25 and living at Bananne in Castries when he first started dabbling in making sandals and slippers.  It was easy for him to work with his hands because for years prior, he had been making belts, pendants, bangles and an assortment of jewelry.  He used to sell his crafts locally and in Martinique.  All during that time, he had a friend who worked as a shoemaker but the occupation never appealed to Peter.

When he started as a shoemaker, his parents encouraged him not only to learn how to make shoes, but learn how to repair them as well.  He took their advice and now, almost ten years later, Peter has established himself in the profession.

We spoke to Morella, one of Peter’s regular customers.  She told us, “It’s been so long I’ve been bringing my shoes to Peter that I can’t even remember how long ago I started coming to him or why.  He is a very pleasant young man and he does good work.  He works quickly and does a good job.”

Peter laughed when he told us some of the stories that brought customers to him.  Reflecting for a moment, he said,
“Every day comes with its own challenges and moments.”

As he demonstrated on a “broken” shoe, Peter took us through the step by step process in its restoration.  He spoke of his tools and materials and intimated that he used both local and imported material.  For Peter, the most challenging material to acquire locally is leather.

Peter says he is very happy with his job at the moment and had some strong words for the younger generation.  He said, “There is nothing wrong being a shoemaker.  A lot of young people out there have pride-too much pride to do decent work and earn an honest living. My work pays the bills and keeps my conscience clear.”

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