If this recession reaches Great Depression levels, there may not be enough cobblers to go around. There are only 7,000 of them left in the US—down from 120,000 in the 1920s—and their business is piling up faster than they can manage as strapped Americans repair shoes instead of tossing them, reports the Wall Street Journal. The economic slump appears to be the sole reason many cobblers have dodged bankruptcy.
Cobblers have traditionally struggled to attract not just customers, but employees to the low-paying trade, and have blamed the craft's decline on the rise of discount stores and inexpensive shoes. Young consumers haven't thought twice about tossing broken heels—until now. One 24-year-old woman visited her first repair shop last week to mend pricey Steve Madden shoes. "I'm glad there are places like this," she said.