GREENFIELD — When Don Clements was trying to figure out how to wind down his shoe repair business last fall, his “perfect world” plan was to find a buyer to purchase the business, move it next door and learn the trade from him.
It’s not a perfect world, but for Clements, who spent nearly 20 years repairing shoes, purses and almost anything leather, it got pretty darn close at year end when the Martinez brothers purchased the big stitching, grinding and polishing machinery from Clements and moved the repair operation of Foot Remedy next door, opening at the first of the year as Rey Condoy Shoe Repair.
The new shop at 70 W. McClarnon Drive in Greenfield is now run by 33-year-old elder brother Baldomero, or Baldo, and Heladio, 26, both of Indianapolis.
Originally hailing from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, one state west of Guatemala at the country’s southwestern tip, the Martinez brothers say they are excited about their new venture in Greenfield.
“I have a lot of experience,” said Baldo, who spent the previous 14 years crafting orthotics and making and modifying prosthetics. “That’s why I took this opportunity; it’s almost the same thing.”
Clements, who is teaching the brothers the business as well as the nuances of shoe repair, said he’s impressed with Martinez’ skill set.
“He has the hand skills and the craftsmanship,” Clements said. “His quality is very good.”
Baldo and Heladio, a former chef’s assistant in Indianapolis, moved the equipment just before Christmas and set an official soft opening for Jan. 13.
The racks are already beginning to fill with repair orders, and Baldo said he will focus on that aspect of the business initially.
“We’re going to do as much repair as possible,” he said. “Nothing is impossible. Sometimes it can be hard, but it can always be repaired.”
However, once they get their foundation set, the brothers intend to expand the services offered by the shop.
“I have a lot of things on my mind that I’m planning to do,” Baldo said.
Crafting customized inserts and orthotics will be among the shop’s additional work in the future.
Clements said the new shop owners will benefit from his expertise as he’s planning to stay on as a consultant and tutor until the fall.
“The shop is better organized than I ever had it,” he said.
When Clements purchased the business, he simply jumped in and started repairing shoes with little time to think about reorganization and efficiency.
After purchasing the shop over 19 years ago, Clements set about teaching himself the craft, building the business and developing a loyal following in Greenfield and beyond.
About two years ago, Clements brought in Patrick Tewell, who had 17 years of experience in retail footwear, to begin running the showroom and planning for the future.
With the shoe repair equipment moved next door, Tewell and Clements have redesigned and expanded Foot Remedy’s retail space and brought in new brands and styles for a full service shoe store, Tewell said.
“The reception has been very good,” Tewell said. “We’re carrying a better product with personalized service.”
Tewell knew Baldo from Indianapolis and suggested he try the shoe repair business on for size. Once the men met, a deal was struck and the repair side named after a Mexican king of antiquity.
Clements couldn’t be happier with the way things worked out, expanding the shoe store while keeping the repair business he built in town.
“Each one (of these businesses) has a lot of potential,” Clements said. “These are my legacies.”
But as customers pass beneath the new Rey Condoy sign above the repair shop’s door, it would be acceptable to wonder just what a mythical Mexican king has to do with shoes.
The good king, according to legend as Baldo explains it, was discovered as hatchling by a childless couple deep in the central indigineous regions of Mexico. He became the peoples’ protector, fighting primarily Spanish Conquistadors intent on consuming and obliterating the native Mexican culture.
“Before they get to us, Rey Condoy fight the Spanish,” Baldo said.
As they cultivate a new business from the seed of an old shop, it seems the protector king is still watching over the Martinez brothers.