I have a lot of respect for certain people in my trade: KeithM, Peter Coulson, Chris Wilson, Lee Ffrench, and many more, yes, you too, Tel, for your car key knowledge - I might have argued with some of these peers but it's always been out of the love for my trade and I have to say that all have been outstanding contributors and ambassadors for my trade and it breaks my heart that it appears to be slowly dying due to lack of interest, innovation and uptake from 'new' cobblers.
I've said a few times that our industry doesn't advertise enough - not just polishes. insoles and all that crap but also that we don't get recognised for our skills and the work we do on a daily basis - I get it: a lot of younger people live in a throw-away world but these exact same people spend a fortune on their footwear and yet they don't get them mended. Why is that?. I don't have the answers but there must be damn good reasons; lack of knowledge that they can get their footwear mended; scared off by the lick-it-stick-it brigade; told by amateurs from big chains that the shoes are beyond redemption?
I would so love to get involved in promoting our trade but it just seems pointless, at the moment, because I'd be fighting my own idealistic, but, (in my mind), misguided, battle against those who can't move with the times. Cutting edge used to be a great publication but now it seems redundant because of its content. Stop targeting the cobblers for money and start to use your budget to target the people who give us their precious money: ADVERTISE! Let the country know about our once highly-valued skills! If they spend on us, we buy off you people who sell through Cutting Edge and we all win! I have so many ideas but I also get people's backs up with my opinions and people make the mistake of conflating my passion for my trade with arrogance, hence why I wouldn't do well on a committee.
Keith's right, to a certain degree: the suppliers should make better use of their websites but I would go one further and encourage the WHOLE industry, including us mere cobblers, to engage each other and come up with a national marketing strategy to encourage people to get their footwear mended, their watch repaired, their patching done, keys cut, things engraved, etc. If we cannot come together as a collective, we will die, alone, wondering what went wrong and blaming everyone else but our sodding selves.
I ask you all: would you be willing to put 50 quid towards an ad campaign with our suppliers? It's a symbiotic relationship and we need to work together. Yes, I know it's lot of money but we cannot just rest on our laurels and watch our trade die. To me - it would be a sound investment, and, at the end of the day - what have we got to lose besides our livelihoods?