By Jim Melwert

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s a sign of the times, and of a changing center city Philadelphia: a longtime shoe repair shop, well known for its service, is closing its doors today for good.

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“I’m sad now, but I don’t have a choice,” says Won Song, who has run Superior Shoe Repair, in the 100 block of South 15th Street, behind the Union League, for 32 years.

Two months ago, he says, he was told the building had been sold and his lease would be terminated.

It’s also bad news for Song’s customers, who came from all over the city and suburbs for his services.  “Everybody’s sad,” Song acknowledges.

He says longtime customers have been dropping off cookies, cards, and gifts.  For now, the 69-year-old is planning to retire.

Greg Kent has been the shoeshine man in the shop for 32 years.

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(Greg Kent.  Photo by Jim Melwert)

(Greg Kent. Photo by Jim Melwert)


Kent says that back in 1982 he was trying to get his shoes shined as he was looking for a job, and that’s when he ran into Song, purely by accident.

“He said ‘Can you shine shoes?’  I said, ‘Yeah.’  He said, ‘Follow me,’ and I followed him over here.  But I couldn’t shine shoes, I just wanted a job,” Kent recalls with a smile.

But he perfected the craft over the years, polishing the shoes of politicians, big-time lawyers, and even famous athletes.

And although the shop is closing, Kent will keep shining shoes, taking his services around the corner to Distanté, a clothing store at 1510 Sansom Street.

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