Semyon Fox, the only cobbler in Marblehead, retired from his job making shoes a few years ago. Now, with time to think about his journey and career, Fox reflected back on his time spent as a cobbler.
Fox’s shop, Quality Shoe Repair, was located right at the end of Atlantic Avenue, near Mayflower Cleaners. Before moving to Marblehead he had a shop in Lynn, where he worked for many years. Fox, a native of Kiev, Ukraine, moved to the U.S. in order to leave the Soviet Union in 1979. He acquired the skill of shoemaking from his father, who was a roofer, and earned a college degree.
They originally settled in Albany, N.Y before moving to Lynn. Fox retired after 27 years in Marblehead.
“When my wife became sick a few years ago, I stopped because now I must take care of my wife,” he said.
Fox said that with his retirement, the closest shoe repair store is now in Beverly.
“No cobbler in Lynn, in Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem,” said Fox.
Fox recalled that he had a passion for what he did. He would fix broken purse straps in addition to shoes, and would take on any task even if it didn’t exactly relate to shoe repair. He said that he loved to work and and that he would keep doing it if he could. Fox isn’t the only one that wishes he was still working, however, as many of his customers still call to see if the shop is open.
“Two years, I haven’t worked. People now still call me everyday and customers say ‘What time do you open? What time do you close?,’” he said. “I say ‘I’m finished.’”
Though there are a few shoe repair shops remaining in the region, Fox and his small but mighty shop were one of a kind, and he knows it.
“Nobody was doing what I was doing,” he said. “Nobody was doing the work that I was doing.”
With such a deep passion for his job, Fox advised that no matter how much or how little a job pays, you must love what you do and do it in good faith.
“Any kind of job, somebody doing it for good, some just for money. You must do it in good,” he said. “That’s it.”