If I Owned a Shoe Shine Stand…

…and make no mistake, someday, I will, I would probably borrow some of the ideas from Brift H in Tokyo. One of San Francisco’s best shoe shiners brought the place to my attention, but since my Japanese is a little rusty, I read about it at CNN’s website. According to Yuya Hasegawa, the Founder: 

"Overseas, shoe shining is just part of manners. But in Japan, it’s more
like a hobby for shoe-obsessives. So we want to create a culture of
going to get your shoes polished in Japan," explains Hasegawa, which
starts to make sense of the shop’s grand pageantry. This is not just a
functional shoe repair shop but a total aesthetic experience. Brift H
feels like the cross between a 19th century British haberdashery and a
speakeasy. The shoe shiners are immaculately dressed, the bar counter is
leather and the furniture is all wooden and antique. As you sit at the
bar and chat with your shoe shiner, you are given a champagne flute of
either apple juice or green tea. The subsequent half-hour (or longer if
there is a queue, as there was in my case) is a relaxing escape from
both work life and hectic Tokyo shopping, a place to go where men can be
gentlemen.

The opening shine, which takes about 20 minutes, is about $18 (as of the conversion rate on July 25th), while the best shine, in which they keep your shoes for 3 days, goes for $72! 

What would I add to a place like that? Not much, really. I do remember an article in GQ about 5+ years ago about a shoe shiner in New York’s Grand Central Station that puts some oil on the shoe and then burns it off with a match. While most shoe shiners either think it does nothing, or worse, harms the shoes, nobody does it. But for a showman like me, the idea of lighting a customer’s shoes on fire while an oil burns itself off is too compelling. 

I’d make sure there was a TV, wi-fi, plenty of newspapers & magazines, and I’d sell the world’s best horsehair brushes, polishes, shoe trees, shoe bags, and shoe horns. And I’d also keep my own shoe collection onsite in the Shoe-midor that I someday hope to build. But more on that later.

Read the full story about Brift H here

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