Step into the shoes of Preston Hollow cobbler George Nikolopoulos, and you’ll be immersed in decades of trade experience — with some star-studded appearances along the way.
Nikolopoulos owns The Cobbler, a shoe repair shop that has been a fixture in the Preston Royal Shopping Center for more than 40 years and is one of the original tenants. The Cobbler also fixes bags and belts and even makes custom items such as wallets made from exotic animal skin.
Nikolopoulos learned to cobble when he was growing up around the family trade in Greece. He moved to Dallas in 1974 to organize the school at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.
“I have two professions: I’m a cobbler, and I’m also a schoolteacher,” he says.
Nikolopoulos says that when he saw the shop was for sale, his cobbling skills “came in handy.” He worked both jobs until 2005, when he retired from teaching to focus on his role as The Cobbler.
“I love whatever I do, whether it’s school or shoes, and I will do it the best way possible,” he says. “That’s why I retired from the school. I got older and couldn’t do both jobs with the same force, the same strength, so I had to give up one of them.”
The Cobbler has a handful of celebrity customers from our neighborhood, including former president George W. Bush, Ross Perot, the Dixie Chicks and country singer Charley Pride.
“I remember Charley Pride was giving a concert in Sydney, Australia, and a few hours before he left for Australia he came to have a quick fix on his bag. I said, ‘I will do that if you invite my brother and his family to your concert.’ They were living in Australia. He went there and called them personally, and we took a picture to prove it to my brother.”
As for the most popular item that comes in for repair? Nikolopoulos says it’s the Christian Louboutin shoe, hands down. Customers often ask him to fix the signature red sole.
“My favorite part of the job is getting a shoe, and in the beginning thinking that it can’t be repaired,” he says. “But then you think it over and find a way to repair them and give them back to the customer, and they say, ‘Oh! It’s a miracle!’ I like the challenge.”
Although business has been booming, Nikolopoulos worries about what will happen to his shop after he retires.
“It’s very important, but this type of business is fading away. I would like to train some people, but nobody wants to learn. So, if I retire, I’m afraid this business will be lost. It’s not an easy business to step into.”
His customers have remained loyal, though — one of the things Nikolopoulos loves most about being The Cobbler.
“It’s wonderful for me to see kids [whose] shoes I’ve fixed back in the ’70s and ’80s, and today they bring their own kids,” he says. “The generations, they remember me.”
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