Quality Shoe Repair owner Eddie LeMay, 68, was recently on the verge of eviction from his home and having to close his business. With one last push, he made an urgent plea on Facebook asking for $1,500 in donations to at least save his home.
With his small business and life on the brink of collapse due to a lack of business amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the last shoe cobbler in southcentral Kentucky had his call answered.
His post was met with an overwhelming showing of support from Bowling Green and beyond. In just a matter of days, his post had been shared more than 500 times on social media, and he has received donations from as far away as California.
Even Grammy-nominated musician Jewel found out about LeMay’s situation, shared his story with her 283,000 Instagram followers and asked for donations.
LeMay has now been given more than $7,000 and counting. Not only has he avoided eviction from his home, his Scottsville Road business has also been saved.
“I’m still numb,” LeMay said Thursday of the support. “It fills you with warmth. You get to where you think nobody cares, and you want to give up. Then all of sudden something breaks, and I’ve got my faith back. It’s just the power of the people.”
It’s been a week full of unexpected blessings for LeMay. Sirius Radio in Nashville did a story on his situation after seeing Jewel’s post. Checks then started to pour in.
LeMay said one person donated $3,400. Shop at Home Carpets in Bowling Green pitched in a check for $500.
As news has spread of LeMay’s story, a huge uptick in business also occurred to go along with the donations.
“The way it’s going with all the people who have pitched in to help me out – I’m going to make it,” LeMay said. “I have enough to where I’m going to keep afloat now. I was not expecting all of that. Everybody is coming in now. It’s been an overflow.”
LeMay’s situation was formerly so dire that he didn’t have enough money to advertise. He was five months behind on his rent payments at Quality Shoe Repair, and he was facing eviction from his home when he made his Facebook plea.
“I wasn’t looking to make a profit,” LeMay said. “I’ve only made enough to keep this store up and running to provide a service to the community. That’s all I want to do. I’m the only shoe repair shop from Nashville to Louisville.”
LeMay was born and raised in Glasgow and has lived in Bowling Green for the past 25 years. He has owned Quality Shoe Repair for the past 18 years thanks in large part to receiving business from his usual clients.
Over the years, the cobbler has managed to repair the working boots, cowboy boots, belts, sandals and leather goods of people throughout the region.
Now, after successfully facing down what was the end of his livelihood, LeMay is finally looking forward.
“I am overwhelmed about the future,” LeMay said. “For the past year, the only thing I’ve been thinking about is getting closed up and just fighting to survive. Now, I’ve got a fresh start and it’s gotten me up to par where I can follow on through.”
Former Bowling Green City Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash was told by one of his friends about the situation at Quality Shoe Repair, which happened to be a business Nash previously used.
Nash was one of the first people on social media to urge people to support the business.
“Eddie has been a longtime member of the business landscape here, and it would be terrible if he went out of business,” Nash said. “Bowling Green is a place that’s different from other communities in that people are a lot more helpful. People here are often willing to give whatever they can to support local causes.”
With a hopeful eye toward the future for the first time in a while, the cobbler said Quality Shoe Repair will continue to fight to keep serving the community.
“I’d like to keep working until I just can’t anymore,” LeMay said. “I’m not going any place else but here. This is it for me. I truly love doing this.”
– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdaily news.com.