The Fast Eddies Story – From The Farm to Footwear
One summer in 1936 with no crop on the farm, Eddie and his brother went into town (Crookston, MN) to find work. What they found was a shoe repair man who would give them a place to stay if they fixed shoes. Eddie and his brother eventually ended up with a shop that was little more than a roof between two buildings. When WWII began Eddie took an army train to Georgia, but it turned out that Eddie was unable to serve due to flat feet of all things! On his way home he saw a shoe repair shop looking for help in Minneapolis.
During the war shoes were hard to come by and shoe repairmen worked 12-hour dayssix days a week for years. Thousands of shoes later Eddie started up his own shoe repair shop on Central Ave. In 1971 Jerry Manes, owner of the Campus Cobbler, asked Eddie to come to Dinkytown. Eddie opened a shop in what used to be College Inn Hotel, Suite 8 before they remodeled it into an arcade.
In 1979 Jim Picard came to Dinkytown as the manager of the Campus Cobbler Shoe Store, just across the alley. Fascinated by the shop, and the entire shoe repair trade Jim spent as much time at Eddies shoe repair shop as he could. The customers seemed so happy Jim would hear “Ooohs” & “Aaahs” as if there were a firework show going on.
In 1987 Eddies decided to retire. Jim convinced him to stay and teach him. Having worked in the shoe business all his life Jim knew what people loved about their shoes; how they should fit, feel and look. Together Eddie and Jim made Fast Eddies Shoe Repair the best in town. Eddie stayed another 20 years sharing his lifetime of knowledge and experience with Jim.
My name is Jim, but I have spent the last 20 years learning to be Fast Eddie. Shoe repair is my passion, as well as people who are passionate about their shoes.
Thank you for reading my story!>
Fast Eddies & Birkenstocks
In 1989 Jim took his love for Birkenstocks to another level when he traveled to Novato, CA and met Tim, the Birkenstock repair master. They worked on one shoe for three days crafting a foot-bed from a paper tracing of someone’s actual foot. Jim mastered the art of using foot impressions from old, worn-out Birkenstocks as a mold for creating new ones, so the shoes always fit like a glove!
It was Birkenstocks business model that made specializing in the repair of their shoes an easy choice. They believed they could create customer satisfaction through quality workmanship. To Jim it was a dream come true; a company that made quality footwear easily serviceable! Jim bought all the equipment he would need to make any repair to any Birkenstock. He even had to learn German so he could read the operation manuals! Jim worked like Eddie did in WWII; 12 – 14 hours days – six days a week. Both his wife Martha and he would mold cork on the kitchen table before sitting down for breakfast. Every shoe pasted through Jim’s hands, every customer was witness to Jim’s gratuitous smile.
With quality shoes, quality service and happy customers Fast Eddies quickly became the second biggest repair center in the country. Birkenstock couldn’t believe how many of their shoes were being repaired right here in Minnesota. When they sent gifts to the top repair centers, Florida: # 1 repair shop received beach towels while Jim received a lined leather jacket. I’m not sure they knew the glaciers had receded up here yet!
When Jim returned to the Novato repair facility he was able to show them new repair techniques. He had repaired more shoes and seen more severe/unusual issues than anyone in their company. The student had become the master! You could bring Jim a buckle and he could restore the entire shoe!
Over the years Birkenstock has offered less and less support for their shoe repairmen. Offering only a fraction of the materials necessary, their company has made it impossible for Jim to continue with the level of repair he once offered for his beloved Birks. Although, he is still your best bet!