Strength in Numbers

The warmest of welcomes from one generation to another.

On June 8th I brought my business Thirstees Little Bling Shoppe to Madison Avenue.

I have always wanted to be a shop owner in Lakewood as it always had that small town feel. Lakewood was attainable rent wise and had those big storefront windows that I dreamed of decorating.

Over the last few weeks I have had many warm welcomes but one in particular has made everything come full circle for me.

A week or so ago, a woman walks into my store for help and says with a broken accent, “I am looking for Custom Shoes”. 

I am new so I grabbed my handy MAMA (Madison Avenue Merchant Association) booklet and there it was right at 15016 Madison Avenue, just a stone’s throw from me.

A week later a very pleasant woman comes into my shop and introduces herself as
the owner of custom shoes. We have a nice conversation about times gone by and
how they just don’t make them like they used to anymore. Now she is 70 and I am 38 and I realize I am the generation she refers to as having disposable items
like shoes that we no longer repair and keep.

From there she asks me if I can make her a shirt (as I make all my items in store)
with a music note for her daughter who plays the piano. I say yes and I ring
her up the $18 and some change and she hands me a $20 bill and says “You keep
the change, you will be successful soon”. 

I hand her my card and she reads “Little Bling Shoppe” Cute!  “Now you come see my store too.” And I say I will do just that.

As I think after she leaves “This is what it’s all about.” Supporting one another,
I decide I will go see her in a day or so and see how her daughter liked her

Tuesday, I enter the shoe shop and am awestruck by the huge steel machinery behind the counter and I ask how old those must be and she says older than herself.

She tells me the story of she and her husband building this business together and shows me a pair of dress shoes they literally built together, one the upper and one the sole. What a beautiful partnership and the shoes look new and stylish to this day. Her husband a Master Shoe Maker has passed away and she runs the business now, in the same location for 50 years. She planned on leaving it to her son but he passed as well from the same cancer as his father. I am saddened yet awed at her strength to keep it going.

I look around and think, “Do I own any leather purse or shoes or jackets to be
repaired, or are they all disposable?”, you can probably guess the answer.
There are so many lessons here about strength, dedication and support of local
business I couldn’t begin to list them all.

I look at her and say “I have to go now; the news channel is coming to do a story
on me, because I am a female entrepreneur and shop owner.”

And she says “How exciting, you go get ready, we have to show them we can do it too, we all have to stick together.” So true, support local isn’t a fad or a trend; it is a history, a family, a beginning of many dreams.

This is what it means to me, thanks for sharing my story.

-Renee Lavelle


Little Bling Shoppe

15301 Madison Ave, just down the street from Custom Shoes.

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Renee Lavelle July 11, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Apologies on the spacing, I was editing and it submitted ahhhh!
Christin Sorensen July 11, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Very true. Supporting local isn't a fad, it is the way things used to work. We all need to go back to those days!
Colin McEwen July 11, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Agreed. Great post, Renee.
Sam Bridgeman July 11, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I agree. I liked your article Renee.
Ruth Sholtis-Furyes July 11, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Even supposed disposable shoes and bags can be repaired, often to better quality than they were new. I often use a shoe maker for repairs to inexpensive shoes. Mine replaces cheaper soles or heals with real rubber that lasts. Almost all my shoes have had the elastic on the strap or buckle area replaced. I have had mine fix a zipper on one of my favourite purses. They sewed a strap on a laptop bag that I loved but the stitching had pulled out. Just because it wasn't designed originally to last, it can still be repaired.
Steve July 11, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Renee, this is one reason I have stayed here in Lakewood. It's the people who really care and take pride. Great article, thanks for sharing.


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