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December 8, 2019
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Van’s Shoes finds new location

WATSONVILLE — The long-standing Van’s Shoes and Repair, formerly perched at 14 East Lake Ave., recently moved up the street to a smaller more efficient location.

Owner Jim van Lanen said the move comes as an adjustment to the market, especially in that “more people and buying goods online.”

Still maintaining their business hours of being open seven days at week at 260 East Lake Ave., van Lanen said there’s no repair job too big to fit in the door.

“It’s our fourth move in 90 years,” van Lanen said. “We’re still offering our line of full shoe and boot repair, polishing and dyes. We’ll continue to have a display of some Red Wing shoes and boots and Rockport products, among other things.”

He said he is exploring the idea of featuring some Ugg boot products.

Van Lanen, 73, said his grandfather opened the business in 1931 and that it moved to a few locations before its longest stay at 14 East Lake Ave. He added that his store will continues to carry an array of shoe care products including Tuff Toe goods, Comfort Soles, insoles, polishes and more.

Jose Luis Castro is the shop’s long-time cobbler.

“I still recall the sound of the presses running when the Register-Pajaronian was next door,” van Lanen said.

When van Lanen’s grandfather first moved to Watsonville he contacted a Mr. Stiglich who wanted $3,000 for his shoe repair shop. Raymond van Lanen offered him asking price, but Stiglich declined and went on to tell van Lanen he would “starve.”

“I’ve never starved and I won’t starve in Watsonville,” he responded, according to Jim van Lanen’s diary.

That’s when Raymond bought some used shoe repair gear in Oakland and started a successful business in Watsonville. The family first lived in a shack on Prospect Street but eventually bought a lot on Lincoln Street for $1,200. The firm Knight and Bernardo built the Spanish style home at 920 Lincoln St.

The original Van’s Shoes opened in the Persian Cleaners Building, but soon moved into what became the Miramar Restaurant on Main Street.

“Everything changes and I’ve seen a great deal of change here in Watsonville,” van Lanen said. “Like we’ve always said here, ‘We sell the best and repair the rest.’”

The 14 East Lake Ave. building is up for sale.

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