Tom Brooks works in his shop, BC Shoe Repair, in the Maple Park Mall. Brooks purchased the store and learned the trade from Zdenko Sarac. Lindsay Chung photo

New face, old trade

Tom Brooks has bought BC Shoe Repair in Quesnel after two years of training under the former owner

Tom Brooks had been using the services of Zdenko “Zed” Sarac in the local shoe repair shop in Quesnel for years. One day, he brought some boots in to get some orthopedic work done and was told the owner was retiring and the shop would be closing. Worried and knowing he would need this service for life, he asked what he would do. Sarac told him he could come in, and he would show him how to do it himself.

“He showed me a few things, and we struck up a good friendship,” said Brooks. “It seemed a natural fit, so he started teaching me in the shop on a weekly basis and gave me the keys to learn on my own as well.”

Two years later, Brooks has purchased BC Shoe Repair in the Maple Park Mall, and he is going to be open full-time.

“The way I like to say it is this trade chose me,” said Brooks. “Sometimes you’ve got to walk through the doors that open up for you. And it came at kind of an opportune time in my life too.”

Brooks says he is very grateful for the “overwhelming” community support and patience he has received in this new venture.

Brooks also feels fortunate to have had a chance to learn from Sarac, who passed away a month and a half ago.

“I had the privilege to learn from one of the best, and I want to be the best one day,” said Brooks.

Brooks feels that as people are becoming more environmentally conscious, they are choosing options such as going to get their shoes repaired, as opposed to throwing them out and buying new ones, because it keeps items out of the landfill and also keeps some money in your pocket while also getting more value out of the things you already own.

While the shop is called BC Shoe Repair, Brooks does much more than repair shoes. He offers a wide array of services and even some retail.

Brooks says some of the most common jobs he does include re-soling shoes and boots, and replacing heels, half-soles and boot zippers.

“Some of the cooler jobs I’ve done are some of the custom jobs I’ve done — I’ve done a liner for an antique mining helmet and am making a sheath for a World War One dagger,” he said.

The services Brooks offers include fixing or putting zippers “in almost anything,” heels, leather or rubber soles, repairing sports equipment like hockey gloves and pads, re-lacing baseball gloves, adding or replacing boot zippers, cleaning, polishing, waterproofing, dying, stretching boots and shoes, any kind of sewing and patching, and he does orthopedic buildups, which he says has become a big market. As well, Brooks does some custom work, such as making belts and knife sheaths.

“I like that every job is different, and every job is an opportunity to learn,” said Brooks. “And I like the tangible feeling at the end of the day — you can look at what you did at the end of the day and see ‘OK, I fixed this.’”

BC Shoe Repair has some retail space as well, and Brooks sells some used boots and shoes, purses and belts, as well as products such as leather conditioners, laces, weatherproofing materials and shoe polish. He cal also order an array of products for shoe care or to help with various foot issues.

BC Shoe Repair is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. in the Maple Park Mall at 2222 Maple Dr. For more information, visit BC Shoe Repair on Facebook.

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Tom Brooks works on a pair of cowboy boots inside his shop, BC Shoe Repair. Lindsay Chung photo

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