Finding a street corner cobbler to quickly fix a sudden snag in your shoe might be quite a daunting task in a city like Muscat. But that’s because they simply do not exist, and ‘Muscat cobblers’ might seem like a Greek phrase to most.
The fact is, when you discover a sudden problem in your footwear, like a broken heel or a torn sole, the best solution might be to get yourself a new pair. Visiting a shoe store or a supermarket, in any area, to get yourself a new pair – irrespective of the desired brand or style – seems like a good idea when you need to keep going for the day.
But, hold on! That’s when you do not know where the ‘cobblers’ are located. There might not be one too many of this breed in town but Muscat cobblers aren’t extinct yet. If you know where exactly to go, you can, indeed, save yourself a few bucks by not purchasing a new pair and getting your shoe repaired instead.
Remember the village cobbler happily mending shoes in the Heritage Village of the Muscat Festival? You are not going to find one like that seated in the shade of a tree, but there definitely are a few Muscat cobblers who can fix your shoe in minutes for peanuts (you will discover, if that’s true!)
The Wadi Kabir cobbler
There’s one at Wadi Kabir, on one of the internal streets opposite Nesto Hypermarket, near the Muscat Bakery outlet and the traffic lights. The guy has a small stall with a board that says ‘shoe repairs’ and sits on the floor of his shop like a traditional village cobbler. Hailing from Pakistan, this cobbler has existed here for many years and he repairs shoes, umbrellas, suitcases and other luggage, too. He also has readymade soles and heel caps for quick fix solutions as well as mends torn shoes with waxed twine. He manually sews torn seams, hammers nails to fix wooden heels, and glues on soles that have peeled off. He is one of the oldest Muscat cobblers and can get the job done, to get you going, but don’t expect perfection!
Skilled cobbler in Qurm
There’s another more popular, more skilled cobbler in a stall within Sabco Centre, in Qurm, towards the shops selling traditional goods on the ground floor. This guys approaches the problem in a more refined manner and uses mechanised equipment, too, to give results that are perfect, like new. You can get new soles/heels fixed in a technically sound manner, as well as ladies handbags sewn skillfully. But you have to be lucky to get immediate attention as he is usually loaded with orders everyday. If you hand him your shoes for repairs be prepared to wait for at least a couple of days.
There are a few more Muscat cobblers in small stores, one at Hamriyah near Muscat Pharmacy, one in the lane behind Muttrah Souq, and one in Seeb Souq. Since these do not have prominent boards, finding them might be difficult, but if you ask around, you surely will land at their doorstep.
How to fix a broken heel at home
The most easy solution is to use a fast drying super glue. It won’t be a long-term fix, but if you’re nowhere near a shoe repair shop, it’ll get you by. The reason super glue is so great for an impromptu heel repair is the fast dry time – some glues may need to set overnight. Here’s what to do:
* Scrape off any old glue from the heel and the shoe.
* If you have sandpaper available, rough up the heel and the shoe to make the glue adhere better.
* If your heel has visible nails prior to gluing the pieces back together, coat the nails with the glue and tap the pieces back together.
* Glue the heel to the shoe. If you can use shoe glue instead of super glue, that’s even better. Then wrap the joint tight in place with rubber bands or elastic. Let is dry for at least a few hours.
If you cannot get yourself to fix a shoe heel on your own and do not have the heart to discard your favourite pair, then seeking professional help from Muscat cobblers is the solution, now that you know where to find them.