Business

Lyon Hide Shoe Repair repairs 1,100 pairs of shoes a month

C.J. Lyon manager at Lyon Hide Shoe Repair, 1100 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE, Suite 113, shows Bob Anderson where a cobbler repaired the shoulder strap of a purse after it came back from being repaired at the store in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
C.J. Lyon manager at Lyon Hide Shoe Repair, 1100 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE, Suite 113, shows Bob Anderson where a cobbler repaired the shoulder strap of a purse after it came back from being repaired at the store in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — When one of the last shoe repair shops in the Cedar Rapids area closed last fall, Travis Lyon saw an opportunity to grow his business.

“I was talking to one of my suppliers at the end of 2018, and he mentioned the void in Cedar Rapids,” said Lyon, who has owned Charlotte Shoe Repair in Charlotte, Mich., for the past five years.

“It was a market that was used to using shoe repair, which is half the battle, and still wanted shoe repair, which is the other half of the battle.”

Late last year, Lyon made two scouting trips to Eastern Iowa from Michigan to select a location for his new business. He opened Lyon Hide Shoe Repair on Blairs Ferry Road NE in Cedar Rapids on Jan. 8.

“This location required the least amount of renovation than the others I looked at, which is important because shoe repair operates on a shoestring budget,” he said.

“It’s also a better location because of the traffic. We have more foot traffic here than at our 40-year-old business back home.”

“I’ve had people tell me they were stopped at the light and looked up and saw ‘shoe repair’ on the sign and had to check it out,” added C.J. Lyon, Travis’s cousin whom he recruited to relocate to Cedar Rapids to manage the new store.

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Growing up on a farm in Michigan, and especially after suffering a serious ankle injury, Travis learned to appreciate high-quality work boots and other footwear.

This appreciation led him to employment with specialty footwear company Red Wing Shoes.

After three years working in the retail shoe business, Lyon had an opportunity to purchase Charlotte Shoe Repair from its retiring owner. In five years, he took the business from a one-man shop to 10 employees who perform the warranty repair work for 15 different Red Wing stores across five states, including the Red Wing store in Cedar Rapids.

The business model for Lyon’s new Cedar Rapids shoe repair store is based on the warranty work done at Charlotte Shoe Repair. Customers drop off their damaged shoes, purses and other leather goods items at the Cedar Rapids store — those items are shipped to Michigan for repair and the repaired items are returned to Cedar Rapids for customers to pick up in two weeks’ time.

“This way, quality is assured and standard,” Lyon said. “I have a staff with 80 years of experience at home.

“The business comes home, we fix it, ship it back and it takes two weeks. I repair 1,100 pairs of shoes a month and have never lost a pair.”

The store also offers a small amount of retail, including rubber work boots, American-made leather belts and seasonal items such as spring sandals.

Lyon eventually plans to add staff in Cedar Rapids who are trained to complete minor repairs on-site. He also would like to expand the business by adding additional stores.

“Iowa is a desperate market that no one is getting into,” he said. “I can see a lot of growth in Iowa.”

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At a Glance

• Owner: Travis Lyon

• Store Manager: C.J. Lyon

• Business: Lyon Hide Shoe Repair

• Address: 1100 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids

• Phone: (319) 289-8079

• Email: lyonhideshoerepaircr@gmail.com

• Facebook: www.facebook.com/LyonHideShoeRepair

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