If my father had not decided to be a teacher, I think he would have made a great boot black — a person employed to polish shoes and boots. Growing up, I remember him creating a ritual about shining his shoes, classic leather sole wingtips he wore in the ’60s and ’70s.
First, he’d get his supplies ready — polish and brushes he kept in a kit he created from a metal ammunition box he received as army issue in the mid-’50s. Next, he’d line his shoes up on newspaper he placed on the kitchen table.
Dressed in an old T-shirt, he get the process started by first cleaning any debris and dirt from the shoe with a soft dry cloth. Next, he’d work a paste into the shoes, keeping a range of colors that included oxblood, brown and black. Lastly, it took quite a bit of elbow grease to buff those shoes with a horsehair shine brush, followed by a shine cloth.
For those who want to try their hand and elbow at shoe shining, there are lots of shoe care products on the market available in shoe repair shops to online stores. There’s the popular brand of Kiwi Regular Shoe Paste Polish for $3.99 at Shoetreemarketplace.com to the higher-end Saphir Medaille d’Or de Luxe all-natural wax shoe polish, retailing for $19.95 at Hangerproject.com.
A professional grade horsehair brush can be had for $6.99,with a shine cloth at $2.75, both from Shoecaresupplies.com. For the ultimate in shines, there’s the Three Stars Electric Shoe Polisher at $125.
But, for those who prefer to have their shoes shined by an expert, there are lots of shoe repair shops that will do it for you while you wait. Minas Shoe Repair in New York, shines them for $6-and-up, while Houston Shoe Hospital charges $8.