Jim's Shoe Repair faces the boot after 82 years in Midtown

Jim's Shoe Repair faces the boot after 82 years in Midtown

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

From their storefront on East 59th Street between Park Avenue and Madison Avenue, the Rocco family doles out shiny shoes, new soles and the kind of personalized customer service corporate boots largely stamped out long ago.

"It's a family-operated business," said Jim Rocco, 83, "and it's three generations here."

Four generations if you include Jim's late father, who emigrated to New York from Italy and opened Jim's Shoe Repair in 1932. After the war, his three sons returned to work in his shop, where we still find Jim -- the youngest of those three boys -- but also Jim's 55-year-old son, Joseph, and Joseph's 24-year-old son, Andrew.

"I've been coming here since I was a little kid," Andrew said. "They used to bring me in the summers. I would work the register, ever since I was 5 or 6 years old."

"We've been here since 1932," Jim said. "And we intend to stay here, but we'll see."

Rising rents, a landlord looking to make money and the corporation next door threaten to end the Roccos' 82 years of sole-healing and hide-polishing from the 59th Street workshop time's left nearly unchanged since its founder shined his first shoe there during the Hoover administration.

"It's the old, vintage look," Joseph said of the store. "It reminds us of the history of New York City. The way it was."

The way it was when you knew your butcher, your barber and the guy who shined your shoes. And they knew you. If Jim's gets the boot, its customers say they'll miss that level of service.

"This interior is a beautiful example of mid-century modern," one woman said. "It should be landmarked and saved."

Ed Sullivan knew where he wanted to get his oxfords and loafers polished. He came to Jim's. And now, so too does a new generation of those who take pride in what they put on their feet.

"I come here at least twice a week," customer Sara Armet said. "And in the past five years, I've had 30 to 40 shoes repaired, rubbers put on the bottom and I always come for my shoe shine with Mario."

The Roccos started a petition and hired lawyers to help them remain in their current space. But should that fail and the shop disappear, one can forget just filling Jim's' shoes. Who else can provide the same experience while shining them?

"This is my life," Jim said of his store.

We reached out to the Roccos' landlord and Duane Reade for comment. Duane Reade said it was looking into the matter.

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