Baltimore cobbler shutters his neighborhood store
The corner store seems innocuous enough; faded signs advertise above the crumbling plaster of a whitewashed exterior, which mask the flavor and heritage of photos, paintings and the warm smile of a man who still has a twinkle in his eye as he shares how proud he feels about having been a cobbler for 37 years.
Malcolm Spaulding, 66, received ten shillings to invest in the shoe repair service, trying to earn a living in his homeland of Kingston, Jamaica. He eventually moved to Baltimore, opening his business 37 years ago.
Changing locations between Fayette and Eutaw Streets, Spaulding finally settled at the 2100 block of W. Fayette Street, doing the one thing he enjoyed the most, sharing his work space with dozens of photos of family and friends, as well as many images of Bob Marley.
He has been proud of his work and craft, but Spaulding’s age, plus declining business and the lack of quality of shoemaking has compelled him to hang it up. “How much further can I go with all these responsibilities by myself? I’ll get out while I have the strength to get out.”
All kinds of unclaimed shoes from pumps to boots, sit on shelves throughout his store. If an owner fails to collect one’s shoes, they will be sold or donated.
A father of four girls and two boys and now a great-grandfather, Malcolm plans to return to his country to reconnect with the people he left, and then return to Baltimore and enjoy his family locally.