Written by Mark Leopold | Photos by Frank Farmer
On the corner of Mitchell and North State Street sits a very modest storefront with a very modest interior. And that is how it has been for over 60 years. Victor Williams, the current owner of Jackson Shoe Rebuilders, has most recently been at the shop since 1999. The store had been closed for a few years at that point, going under in the mid-1990s due to mismanagement of funds. In 1999 the machinery sat dormant, having never been removed from the store. The owner, Bob Watts of Southern Leather Company, called Williams and said, “Victor, you know I got that shop up there? You want it?” Williams recalls being stunned by the offer, but readily accepted.
For Victor it all started some four decades ago when his father, Augusta Williams, told Victor, “I’m going to give you something nobody can take.” That was when Victor’s foray into the trade of shoe repair began.
During that time four decades ago, his father was employed at the very same Jackson Shoe Repair. In 1973, Augusta was able to open his own shoe shop on Farish Street, Williams Shoe Repair. From there they moved locations several times over the years until Victor became owner of Precision Shoe Repair on Old Canton Road. Even today Victor says folks will still come in toÂ Jackson Shoe Rebuilders and be surprised to see him, wondering where he had moved to after Precision.
Victor also attributes the success ofÂ Jackson Shoe Rebuilders to the customer base that has been building for decades and decades. Victor has had people from all over the state come back to the shop in Jackson to get their shoes fixed because they can expect reliable service done the right way.
Having things done the right way is a big thing for Victor, who is in the process of training his son, Christopher Williams, to eventually take the reins of the business.
Something Victor wants to impart is that while getting to ownÂ Jackson Shoe Rebuilders has been an absolute blessing, there are aspects of it that can be a curse. Mastering a trade is an enormous task, but balancing that with keeping a business afloat is exponentially harder. With nearly a century of combined experience between three generations of Williams atÂ Jackson Shoe Rebuilders since they opened their doors, Victor never wants to give Fondren anything less than the best. As Victor notes, “The Fondren community has been paramount to the success of the store.”
Jackson Shoe RebuildersÂ has been an integral part of Fondren, but as Williams’ son assumes more responsibility at the store, Victor is embarking on other ways to give back to the community. He is currently in school for his masters in social work and hopes to be a drug counselor, but he won’t be leaving the shoe shop any time soon. And with a fourth generation of Williams tradesmen (Christopher has a son as well) waiting in the wings,Â Jackson Shoe Rebuilders stands to be around for a long time to come.