Chillemi Shoe Repair, which opened in 1949, is an institution in White Plains.
Though the owners, White Plains residents Peter Chillemi (who originally opened the business on Mamaroneck Avenue) and his son Paul, are looking for a new location, they have no intention of ceasing operations.
Paul Chillemi said last week the business has been located in the White Plains Mall for 43 years. The mall is slated to close sometime in the near future. “We’re looking for a new location, trying to find something,” he said, adding later, “We’re going to miss this place.”
Chillemi began following in his father’s footsteps by working in the business when he was 11. He is satisfied with his career choice. “I used to come when I was young and watch him work,” he said. “I love it. I love meeting different people. I love the different challenges that we get to do with shoes.”
The business does repairs of shoes, handbags, leather jackets and zippers. “We try to do everything we could possibly do,” Chillemi said. Some of the shoe work includes replacing soles and heels, he said. “It makes the shoes look like brand new pretty much.”
Some repairs can be accomplished while a customer waits, or an item can be dropped off if the work will take a day or two, Chillemi said.
At the age of 89, Peter Chillemi still comes to work to do repairs every day, his son said.
The business gets clients from as far away as North Carolina and Florida when they come back to visit the area where they used to reside. “It feels great,” Chillemi said.
Chillemi said his business has “a great reputation” in the community. The business is promoted through word of mouth and such other means as its Facebook page.
Some of the keys to the success of the business, aside from its positive reputation, are seeking to fulfill their clients’ needs and “treating the customers’ right,” Chillemi said.
Chillemi said his business is a dying profession nationally. He is seeking to train youth in the business so they can carry on the family tradition. “I would like one day, if I could do it, to open up a school and teach this business,” he said.
Chillemi Shoe Repair is located at 200 Hamilton Ave. in the White Plains Mall. For more information call 914- 761-1141. The business also has a Facebook page.