Heart & Sole: Harry’s Shoe Repair Has Served Menomonie for More Than 70 Years
‘It keeps us young’ says 80-year-old couple that owns shop
Nestled in a residential area of Menomonie just off Broadway Street (2209 2nd St. E), is a little piece of history. Harry’s Shoe Repair, now owned and operated by Jerry Cockeram and his wife, Lynda, has been a family-run business for the last 72 years.
During those years, there have only been three owners, all from a single family line. Harry Cockeram Sr. opened the business in 1951, and Jerry’s brother, Harry Jr., worked for their dad until he eventually took over in 1977 when Harry Sr. retired. After a few years in business, Harry Jr. became ill in 1984 and Jerry took over. He and Lynda have been in business for 39 years now.
In a Dunn County News article from 1997, Jerry was asked how long he planned to continue repairing shoes. He responded, “At least another 10 years.” That was 26 years ago.
“We’re 80 years old now, and we don’t know how long we’re gonna keep it, but it keeps us young. We live next door, so it keeps us busy,” Lynda said.
The services offered by the Cockerams are hard to come by in this day and age. Lynda said that there are no other shoe repair shops for miles. People from Eau Claire, Nelson, Baldwin, Woodville, and other surrounding towns come for their repair needs.
“We repair zippers. We put in new zippers. We fix shoes and boots and coats. I hem pants, and I even put a zipper in a sports bra,” Lynda said.
In the past, they used to sew tents and do taxidermy, but it’s too hard for them to do that now. They also worked on a suit for a wrestler out of the Twin Cities named Ken Patera, and a pair of shoes for singer and actor Roy Rogers’s grandson.
As a hobby, Lynda fixes purses and billfolds she finds at craft sales and sells them in their shop. Jerry joked that customers bring in their old purses to ask if Lynda would like them, and he always says yes. Lynda sells about one or two a week and said it’s a nice little hobby for her.
Jerry and Lynda have a solid client base that keeps coming back, but they often gain new customers for a variety of reasons. When people have hip surgery, their legs may have a difference in length after, so Jerry will build up the soles of one of their shoes. They replace the velcro on braces and sew blankets that are used to transfer patients from one bed to another for hospitals as well.
While they do keep busy, business looks a little different today than it did in the past. “Some days he sits here and does crossword puzzles, and I’m over at the house doing my thing, but then some days we’re busy,” Lynda said.
You won’t find much online about the shop, and that’s intentional according to Lynda. “We don’t advertise because we don’t want too much work. At 80 years old we don’t want to work hard,” she said.
Jerry and Lynda have three children, but none of them plan to take over the business next. “When we’re done, it’s done,” Lynda said.
Zipper tips from Jerry and Lynda:
Zip your boots all the way down before putting them on, or you’ll break the teeth on the zipper.
“If your zipper doesn’t zip good, like a boot, or a coat, or anything, all zippers should be waxed,” Lynda said. Take a bit of wax, or an old candle, and rub it on your zipper and it should zip right up.
If your zipper separates at the bottom, all it needs is a new slide. Jerry said, “A lot of people throw their coats and stuff away because it pulls apart, but it’s fixable for a little bit of nothing.”
You can visit Harry's Shoe Repair (2209 2nd St. E, Menomonie) Monday-Thursday from 9am-4pm. The shop’s number is (715) 235-7615.