If you don't know who your local cobbler is, now is the time to find out. "A cobbler can really take an old pair of shoes and boots and make [them] look like new," says Donald Rinaldi, president of the Shoe Service Institute of America.
A trip to the shoe repair shop can extend the life of a shoe by years. Jim McFarland is a third-generation cobbler and owner of Jim McFarland's Shoe Repair in Lakeland, Florida. His most common request is for new heel caps, which can run $8 to $12. "Generally, what come on most shoes are plastic caps," he says. "In shoe repair shops, we use really long-lasting rubber." A rubber heel cap protects the heel tip of a shoe and creates a nonslip grip.
Protect Your Soles
To really make shoes go the distance, Jim says to ask a cobbler for sole protectors. Slip-resistant and waterproof, they protect soles from snow, rain and general wear and tear. "They make soles last about 10 times longer," Jim says.
The thin sole protector won't ruin the look of your shoes—in fact, Jim can even apply a red sole protector to a pair of worn Christian Louboutins to make the signature sole look like new. Sole protectors will cost about $18 to $30, with special requests like red soles at the higher end.
Next: Shoes that go the distance