In light of the crippling economic crisis, Sidonians are opting to have shoes repaired rather than purchasing new pairs due to the devaluation of the national currency, which has caused prices to soar across the country.
Lebanon is struggling under a financial crisis seen as the biggest threat to its stability since the 1975-90 Civil War. The national currency has lost over 80 percent of its value in recent weeks, making basic food and household items virtually unaffordable.
In Sidon, many shoe repair shops are located in Al-Bazerkan market within the old souks, beside shops selling meat, bread and vegetables.
Saad Kiwan, who has been a shoemaker in the area for 40 years, told The Daily Star that shoes that are usually thrown out are being brought in for repair.
Kiwan held up a pair of women’s shoes made of artificial leather that had been split in two. He said that the owner asked him to glue and sew the parts together.
He pointed out that prices for the materials have also increased. “A shoe insole which previously cost LL10,000 ($6.633) now costs LL30,000 ($19.900),” Kiwan pointed out.
Kiwan said that one of his clients, an athlete, brought in shoes because he could not afford another pair.
“I will do what I can and I will sew it for him and he will pay LL3,000 ($1.990), which is a very small amount especially since the price of thread and nails has increased to a large degree,” Kiwan said.
A man, who gave his name as Walid, came to the market to repair his only pair. “I do not exaggerate when I say that I only have this pair of shoes ... my toes come out from the front of the shoe and they must be repaired and restored,” Walid said.
“I agreed with the shoemaker to pay a price of LL 5,000 ($3.316) because I can’t afford to buy shoes because of the expensive prices,” he added.
Ahmed al-Bizri, who has been a shoemaker since 1985 and inherited the profession from his father, said the shoemaker’s market has seen an increase in clients during the economic crisis.
“Many cannot afford to buy shoes at $10, which is the lowest price you’ll find, so people choose to repair their shoes instead,” Bizri said.
“People from all walks of life come and fix their shoes ... The time for throwing away shoes is over as we go through this crisis,” Bizri said.
He hands a bag of repaired shoes to a woman who asked to pay Bizri the following week. Many are postponing payments until they are able to pay the required amount, while in some cases people are exempt entirely from paying due to the challenging economic times.
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