The sign on the front window simply reads, “Time for retirement, thank you for your patronage and loyalty: We love you.”
After 27 years in business, the owners of Hendrick’s Shoe Repair, Luther Shakarji and his wife, Clare, have decided it’s time to shut their doors to a community that opened their hearts to them for so long.
“It wasn’t 27 years in jail; it was 27 years in heaven,” Luther said. “It has been our Golden Days we’ve spent here.”
Although Thursday, Sept. 30 marked the last day of the small shop off Park and Lincoln Avenues, no tears were shed. There was just a huge sense of pride and gratefulness for all the community had given them.
“Our customers are not just customers — they are family,” Clare said.
Luther said he clearly remembers the day he found his new business.
“It was 1983 Memorial Day weekend… when we saw this place I said, ‘Clare, come on,’ and that was the beginning of our journey,” he said.
Luther and his wife traveled all the way from Lebanon, where Luther first learned his cobbler trade, eventually finding the community that would fill his heart.
“The people always loved us, more than we deserve,” Luther said. “Everywhere I go I talk about this place and how they came to us as family.”
The community will miss Luther and Clare.
“A community usually thrives when it has local support for a basic industry… like the drug store, or Miller’s Hardware, just your basic bread-and-butter shop,” Winter Park resident and Hendrick’s customer Charles Evans said.
Nancy Turner has been a customer of Hendrick’s for more than 20 years, and said she didn’t mind driving all the way from Sanford to get such excellent service.
“They do a wonderful job,” she said. “I don’t know what I am going to do now that they are closing; they will be missed.”
Many customers will also miss the specialty service, which is hard to find nowadays.
“There’s not another service like it that provides a quality of service,” Evans said. “You just don’t find old craftsman-style shoe repair businesses anymore; it’s a shame to see it go.”
Customer June Andersen also said she will have a hard time finding a business to replace Hendrick’s.
“It [a cobbler] is not a traditional skill that young people are taking up,” she said.
Although Luther said he is so sad to let go of a business that he loved for so many years, he is more than pleased with the journey he and his wife have been able to embark on together.
The Shakarjis said they are looking forward to enjoying their retirement and spending more summers in North Carolina.
“We have been blessed, and I will never forget it,” he said. “But it’s time to enjoy the rest of our lives together.”