By JEFF BENZIGER
Editor of the
Ceres (Calif.) Courier
Name of Business: Sole Saver Boot & Shoe Repair
Type of Business: Shoe and leather repair
Location: Richland Shopping Center, 2531 E. Whitmore Ave., Ceres, Suite T
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays; closed Sundays and Mondays.
Contact information: (209) 531-1649.
Specialty: Repairing worn out favorite shoes, altering boots, fixing leather purses; shoe shining service.
History of the business:
Cobbler Frank Cardenas has been repairing the favorite shoes and boots of Ceres residents for 30 years and shows no signs of retiring – for now.
Sole Saver relocated to the Richland Shopping Center four years after leaving the little house on Fourth Street where the giant metal boot sign still hangs. It was home from 2000 to 2016. Previously he was operating out of the Fifth Street Plaza where he took over his son-in-law’s business, then called Leo’s Shoe Repair.
Cardenas feels like his move to the shopping center was a good one because of greater visibility.
“I’m here because the Lord has been good to me,” said the amiable well regarded Cardenas. “I’m really proud, I’m really humbled to be living in Ceres and have my business in Ceres.”
Cardenas, 74, grew up in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, where his father instilled in him a hard work ethic to get ahead. He attended a Bible school in Tijuana where he met his future wife Belen, a Stockton native. Frank came to the United States on a visa to be married in 1971. Frank wanted to become a pastor and because he had few skills he resorted to shining shoes at Cavagnaro’s shoe repair in Stockton and later Manteca. He knew he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life only shining shoes. Cardenas eventually was taught the trade of repairing boots and shoes – something he initially had no interest in pursuing. Belen was called to be a pastor in Ceres and Frank had an opportunity to take over Leo’s Shoe Repair on Fifth Street. As a Christian businessman interested in saving souls, Frank turned to a catchy play on words for the name of the business, hence Sole Saver.
The community has a great deal of trust and respect for Cardenas. Sole Saver was honored in February 2016 by the Ceres Chamber of Commerce with the “Downtown Business of the Year” award.
Today he enjoys what he does – and owning his own business. He believes in good causes and has repaired and donated shoes to the needy. His business also offers an outreach apprenticeship to men.
Cardenas is skilled at repairing purses, baseball gloves, belts and handbags, and even gets house slippers for repairs. He brought out a pair of boots which someone altered by shortening and installing zippers. Typically a repair can be completed in a two- or three-day turnaround.
The shop, which is affiliated with the Shoe Services Institute of America, is getting referrals from his daughter’s and son-in-law Angel’s Magic Shoe Repair business now that it has closed in McHenry Village.
The shop carries used boots and Stetson cowboy hats on consignment and sells leather belts.
He hopes to keep going as long as he can and dreams of passing the business along to his grandchildren.