Photos by Jamie Plain
Moss, who took over the business from his grandfather, Jessie Frakes, loves the idea of passing his business down to a family member, but says that is not feasible at this point. Instead, he plans to spread the word through a variety of channels – including trade magazines and local realtors, to find a person who wants to live in Owensboro and own and run a shoe repair shop. While Moss is willing to train and work with the next owner, he does not want to employ the person or own any of the business.
Moss wants the next owner to purchase the shop before he trains them, so the new owner is personally invested in the endeavor. “Anybody can learn this trade,” he says, noting that the need is high and that is unlikely to change. After the passing of Don Raines, who owned the Shoe Hospital on 4th and Frederica for decades, and was more of a friend than competitor to Moss, Moss says he was so busy he literally couldn’t keep up. In the last 6 months, he has only opened his shop Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Though he works Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, as well. Closing the door to drop offs three days a week was the only way he could keep up with his work.
“I have great customers, and I love to talk,” Moss said. “Some people come by just to talk,” he added. The ebb and flow of customers varies, he says, but not a day goes by when the shop is open that he doesn’t get new customers. Moss requires payment before he does work on shoes and boots to avoid folks deciding not to pick up their newly redone shoes. He admits his work can feel costly, but most people are surprisingly attached to their favorite footwear. The statements he most often hears in justification of repairing shoes that may not have been expensive in the first place are, “they are just so comfortable,” and “I can’t find any others like them,” he says. Often, repairing shoes with a non-leather sole involves Moss’s least favorite process – glue jobs. ”I’d rather do anything than that,” he says. As far as the most well-made shoes he sees come in and out, Moss says dress shoes by Allen Edmonds are the finest as far as he’s concerned.
Anyone who has been a customer of Moss’s knows that when you get an item back from Terry Moss, it almost always comes to you with a Bible verse or inspirational poem tucked inside. After getting saved about ten years into owning the shop, he found himself wondering how he could glorify God through his business. He was inspired by a preacher he knew who handed out gospel tracks and decided to follow in his footsteps. Moss says he receives semi-regular feedback from people regarding his ministry. “Recently, a man texted that he received a Psalm in his shoe from me and he said, ‘I really needed that.’”
Moss says he has never had to advertise, which should be an appealing aspect for a prospective buyer. His location, across from the Farmers Market, has proved fruitful, and he says he has enjoyed seeing the area improve over the years. There’s no timetable on Moss’s departure, and he seems optimistic that the right buyer will come along. “I’m not going anywhere just yet,” he says, reiterating his promise to train the next owner. “Owensboro needs a full-service shoe and leather shop.”