Community & Business

28 April, 2024

Atherton’s shoe man hangs up his boots

FOR 27 years, locals have been able to walk the extra mile in their favourite shoes thanks to the Tablelands’ only certified shoe repairer Lloyd Howarth.

“The Sole Man” Lloyd Howarth has officially closed up shop after 27 years of servicing the Atherton.
“The Sole Man” Lloyd Howarth has officially closed up shop after 27 years of servicing the Atherton.

No matter the size, the shape or the brand, Lloyd had always “looked at what he can do” to ensure his customers can walk away in their beloved comfortable shoes. 

Today (24 April), however, is the last day of trade for Llyod’s business, “The Sole Man”, as the Atherton local begins to pack up shop for a relaxing retirement. 

After many years in the Royal Australian Airforce, Lloyd began working in a shoe repair store in Cairns, but after 10 months he decided to move to the Tablelands for a change in scenery. 

After a short stint at Malanda Dairy, Lloyd realised his passion was truly in the shoe repairing industry. 

“Long story short, I saw the need for a shoe repair in Atherton, so I made some inquiries and sold my car and then got it set up,” he said. 

“The first shop was up on Robert Street and I was there for about six years or so, and then I moved down to Main Street around 20 years ago.”

Throughout his time, Lloyd has had many interesting shoes, jackets and bags come through the doors with even more interesting damage. 

“When it comes to shoes, they are all different, and it has amazed me how they have changed over time,” he said. 

“I had a gentleman come in the other day with a pair of boots that were basically brand new. The sole had already come off, and he was absolutely devastated.

“It was great when I told him the main part of my job was gluing soles back on - it’s my bread and butter – and he’s never had a problem since!”

Shoe repairing has become a dying art, with major kiosk chains taking over small, certified businesses such as Lloyd’s. 

“In my opinion, those kiosks do cheap, nasty jobs and charge a fortune for it,” he said. 

“I think I am only one of two certified shoe repairers up here in the Far North.

“When someone comes into the shop and asks for a quick job done, I always tell them ‘I don’t do quick jobs’. They ask, ‘Can’t you just put some glue in there?’ and I always tell them, ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t do that sort of work’.

“I have established a good reputation for doing quality work and I refuse to jeopardise that for anybody.”

Now the shop has closed up, Lloyd is looking forward to spending time with his wife and relaxing at home. 


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