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updated: 5/25/2013 5:18 PM

Geneva Shoe Repair going strong after 30 years

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  • Gary Miller of Geneva Shoe Repair works at the grinder last week. The third-generation family business is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month.

      Gary Miller of Geneva Shoe Repair works at the grinder last week. The third-generation family business is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


Apparently, fixing shoes has proved to be consistent work, even during the tough economy of the past four years.

"We've been steady the whole time," said Lauren Miller, whose husband Gary represents the second generation of Millers operating Geneva Shoe Repair in downtown Geneva.

"Sometimes people will buy more resale shoes during hard economic times, then bring them in for some repair," Miller said.

Gary is the son of Robert and Betty Miller, who opened the shop in May 1983. It means the family this month marked its 30th anniversary of repairing shoes for area residents.

Gary and Lauren have made it a third-generation process, having their sons Rob and Dan now work at the shop.

Geneva Shoe Repair, located beneath the State Street Dance Studio in what would be considered the back of the old Geneva Theater, previously had a storefront on State Street.

"We had a good view of what was going on when they filmed 'Road to Perdition' here," Lauren Miller said of the Tom Hanks' movie filmed in downtown Geneva about 12 years ago.

Of course, Geneva Shoe Repair mostly has been about repairing shoes, which currently presents new challenges.

"Shoes are not made as good as they used to be," Miller said. A cheaper product turns into a more difficult repair job in many cases, she added.

"Shoes today deteriorate more easily, sometimes from just sitting in a closet," Miller said.

So how long should a quality pair of shoes last?

"It's hard to say, and it depends on what kind of walker you are," Miller said. "Some people walk harder than others, and are a lot tougher on their shoes."

Soldiers need their wipes: Of all the items the Fox Valley Troop Support organization gathers for veterans overseas, the volunteers mention one as a vital need.

That would be baby wipes, also known as wet wipes. And wet is the key word here.

Water is scarce in the Middle East and summer temperatures climb higher than 120 degrees, said Sarah Giachino, co-chair of Fox Valley Troop Support.

"Baby wipes are much appreciated," Giachino said. "The constant attempt to stay clean is always a challenge in these dry conditions.

"The sand over there is like baby powder so it's almost impossible to keep items clean from sand," she added.

Each care package must have one container of baby wipes. If the organization comes up short of that goal, it buys the wipes to add to the packages.

If you can get some baby wipes, among other things like candy and beef jerky, bring them to the support group's upcoming care packaging event. Soldiers overseas would appreciate it.

The group is conducting its spring care package event at 5 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at the Batavia VFW Post 1197.

More music in town: Having musicians and singers perform in outside locations or inside businesses in downtown St. Charles during the summer could make for a nice touch. The Downtown Partnership is pitching "STC Live" as a way to attract more families into town with music.

It could work. Geneva had a similar weekend a couple of years ago under the theme of music in the alleys, with musicians singing or playing in parking lots or alleys around town. It seemed to go over quite well, especially with visitors.

Here's the thing with St. Charles: For the past decade, city officials have considered how to build up the retail sector, with the First Street Plaza being a historic thrust in that direction.

In the meantime, the Arcada Theatre became a gathering place again, fueling interest in local bars and restaurants. It was the right idea at the right time for the downtown and the city is lucky to have such a vibrant draw. But the city also needs a better mix of what it is offering.

Main Street has become a decent night life strip, but it has brought on the problems inherent with that atmosphere -- a bit too much drinking and too many disturbances fueled by alcohol.

That's a bad perception to hang on any town, and maybe "STC Live" can bring back some balance.

More disc golfing: Wheeler Park in Geneva has seen a steady stream of disc golfers since the course opened more than a year ago, confirming that the sport has become quite popular.

The Batavia Park District is now counting on that phenomenon to continue, having opened a disc golf course on its Main Street property west of Randall Road, near the dog bark park.

About those planters: Batavia city officials figure they didn't really get what they paid for when it comes to the planters along the new River Street streetscape. They wanted more granite to stick out of the ground under each planter, but some issues with street slope and some minor miscommunication between the contractors and the city resulted in City Administrator Bill McGrath giving the go-ahead to proceed with no extra granite at the base.

Wisely, aldermen said forget about spending an extra $77,000 to fix the planters.

We walked down River Street the other day and realized that residents and visitors who will enjoy the new setting won't feel as if something important is missing with the planters.

In fact, as some aldermen have mentioned, as soon as the city gets plants in place along River Street, it's going to look great regardless of granite measurements.

A birthday sandwich: The free sandwich coupon that arrived in my email as a Happy Birthday wish from Colonial Restaurant this month was put to good use.

My taste buds wanted to let you know that the Pot Roast French Dip sandwich, with melted mozzarella cheese and fried onion strings atop the meat, was a nice choice indeed.

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