By Virginia Bruce
For 25 years Clarence Buehrle has been providing the service of shoe repair
from his tiny shop hidden away in a corner of one of Cedar Mill’s shopping
centers at the corner of Saltzman and Cornell. He is a master craftsman,
using a bit of glue or some thread to put a good pair of shoes back
on the road. And his shop is fun to visit for a look at the cobbler figurines
and prints on the walls.
Buehrle came to Oregon after his position as shift boss at Barney’s
Casino in Lake Tahoe ended when the management changed. Some friends
invited him to come up and stay with them in Forest Grove. He liked it so
much, he rented a house from a man who did shoe repair there. When money
became available from the Comprehensive Education and Training Act (CETA)
he went to work for his landlord at Dan’s Shoe Repair. “It was
a good deal for everyone,” he recalls. “He got paid, I got paid,
and I learned the trade from a master.”
After his training, he worked for a while at a shoe repair shop in
Beaverton. When that closed down, he was able to locate some old
shoemaking equipment for sale in Bend and he and his former wife
rented the shop in Cedar Mill.
Buehrle is willing to tackle repairs on almost any type of footwear,
along with belts and bags. The only thing that’s nearly impossible
to repair are shoes that have been chewed by a dog. He works on athletic
shoes, designer stilettos, boots and work shoes, and everything in
If you’re wondering if a pair of shoes is repairable, he says,”bring
them in. If they’re your favorite shoes, I can usually make them work
again for you. It may be expensive, but if you love the shoes it’s
worth it. That’s the way I was taught.”
The most common request is protective soles and heels. This is fairly
new technology—a thin protective layer applied to new shoes to extend
the life of leather soles. He also carries Vibram® soles and heels for
repairing worn shoes.
If the shoe doesn’t fit
Most shoes can be stretched, he says. “If you can get it on your foot,
I can stretch it enough to make it comfortable.” It depends on the
shoes, and what part is tight, but it’s usually worth a try.
He blames poor shoe fitting on the fact that very few shoes are made
in the US any more. The quality and sizing consistency have gone
down, he says. Research has shown, however, that nearly half the
shoes purchased are the wrong size to begin with. People don’t like to think their feet
have grown, but it’s a good idea to have your feet measured every time
you buy shoes.
It usually only takes a few days to have your shoes repaired, depending
on his workload. “I can work with the customer’s needs,” he
says, and can turn shoes around quickly since he’s in the shop six
days a week.
His customers seem to find their way to the shop despite the poor
access that was the result of the road project. “You have to plan how
you’re going to get in and out now,” he says. “But people
still seem to manage.”
He finds a lot of trust and good will in Cedar Mill. He takes checks
and rarely has a problem. He has seen customers’ children grow up and
become customers themselves.
In addition to shoe repair, the shop has a full line of laces and
polish, and he also has some shoes for sale—closeouts from other stores
and like-new shoes that customers bring in for him to sell. He also
sells beeswax candles and crystals for a friend.
Cornell Cobblers is open Monday-Friday 9-6 and Saturday 10-4. The
shop is located just north of Papa Murphy’s Pizza through the breezeway
next to the dry cleaner shop. It’s worth finding his shop to keep some
of your old faithful footwear in working order.