ASKED AND ANSWERED

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Do you have a pair of tattered heels sitting in your closet that you're embarrassed to wear out of the house? Or do you have a pristine pair of cowboy boots that you want to preserve before they become shabby?

We've asked the only local shoe repair business in town to give us some tips on how to keep shoes looking their best.

Hawkin Ludlum, owner of Bear Valley Boot Repair, said preventative maintenance is key.

Ludlum said he constantly sees people coming into the store with worn-out shoes.

"'These are my favorite shoes,'" Ludlum recalls people saying. "They want them to look like new again. If they did some preventative maintenance, they'd last a lot longer."

Ludlum recommended rotating your work boots daily in order to salvage the heels and soles.

"They'll wear as though you have three pairs," Ludlum said.

Giving boots a chance to dry and relax allows them some time off. When cowboys are out on their ranches all day, trudging through mud and manure, boots can rot right through, Ludlum said.

"These are $300 to $400 custom-made boots and the bottoms are totally rotten," Ludlum said.

Clean them up after they get soiled, Ludlum suggested.

Many times leather wears down after constant use and if you don't condition or at least polish the leather, it gradually fades to nothing, Ludlum said.

Ludlum said many people who wear the heels of their shoes down don't realize that it can strain their backs.

"Getting into a shop early enough to do repair work can save (people) money and pain," Ludlum said.

Half of Ludlum's customers are ranchers and cowboys, the other half are city folks needing typical shoe repairs.

"I get a lot of doctors and lawyers in here wearing their cowboy boots everyday, too," Ludlum said. "They wear them down just as bad, but they don't want to let go of them."

Compiled by Kelly Silva

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