In the world of shoe repair, there is perhaps no greater foe than dog shoes.
"You know, dog shoes," said Trevor Frandsen, shoe salesman turned repairman and co-owner of Olde Towne Comfort Shoes and Repair. "When your dog chews your shoes up real bad and you come in and say, 'Oh, my God, my dog.' And we say, 'Boy, what can we do?' "
For Frandsen, there is no greater challenge than dog shoes, and no greater feeling than when he brings back your favorite pair from the drooling jaws of an over-enthusiastic mutt - like the time he found just the right leather to match a pair of green boots gnawed nearly beyond recognition.
"The lady - she gave me such a hug," Frandsen said. "She said they were like brand new shoes. … I love it when a person comes in and drops something off and comes back and says, 'You do beautiful work. We didn't think it could be fixed.' It's the customer."
It's a side of the business he couldn't fully appreciate as a shoe salesman. For years, Frandsen just sold shoes - in fact, all three previous owners of Olde Towne Shoes worked for the same shoe wholesaler where Frandsen still works today.
Hearing those men talk about their work piqued his interest enough that Frandsen started working part-time at the shop. Eight years ago, when the business went up for sale, Frandsen and his wife, Mary, stepped in.
Today, the Frandsens and a team of four employees take on everything from dog shoes and worn-out heels to leather repair and broken jacket zippers. They even sell shoes.
Still, shoe repair is what drives the store. And these days, with the economy still creaking back to life, it's a pretty brisk business.
"When the economy is bad, repairs are busy. And September - when the kids go back to school - until about February is my busiest season. We get 30 to 60 drop-offs a day. And that's just for shoe repair," said Frandsen, who opened a second location in Oconomowoc two years ago.
Of course, he can always count on the dog shoe crowd.
"Any dog shoe you're gonna get is never gonna look like it used to, but they can at least wear it. And when the economy is bad, people say, I don't care how it looks, as long as I can wear it.' "
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JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Olde Towne Comfort Shoes and Repair
ADDRESS: 806 N. 68th St.
PHONE: (414) 771-8190
OWNERS: Trevor and Mary Frandsen
TYPE OF BUSINESS: shoe repair and sales
PEARLS OF WISDOM: "We really try our hardest to make things look as new as possible. That's our goal."
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