High on a wall across from the service counter of Messina’s Shoe and Boot Repair in Grapevine is an old black-and-white photo showing the origins of a business owned by the same family for three generations.
It depicts the Messina Brothers Shoe Repair shop opened by Sam and Jimmy Messina in 1904 at Akard and Ervay streets near downtown Dallas. The brothers started the business after immigrating to the United States from Sicily, Italy, where they learned the trade from their father Mauro.
Sam continued operating the shop until his death in 1943 when son Joe received his discharge from the Navy to take control. Four years later, Joe moved to the Hillcrest Shopping Center in Highland Park near the Southern Methodist University campus and changed the name to Joe Messina’s Shoe Repair. After 20 years in that location, Joe moved nearby to Snider Plaza where he also sold new shoes.
In 1975, Joe retired and sold the business to his son, also named Sam. Two years later when the landlord wanted to nearly double the rent, they raised money with a moving sale and relocated to Main Street in the heart of historic downtown Grapevine where they’ve been ever since.
“My uncles were familiar with Grapevine as they were cobblers and housebuilders out here,” said the younger Sam, now 64. “But they said ‘you don’t want to be on Main Street. There’s no parking there.’ But we’ve done all right.
What do they provide?
Messina’s is all about the repair and restoration of leather products. In winter, Messina’s works on a large number of boots and with this being Texas, most are of the cowboy kind. Summer brings more sandals and similar footwear.
The shop also repairs men’s and women’s dress shoes and belts, women’s purses, plus suitcases, backpacks and briefcases. While ending new shoe sales in the 1980s, Messina’s still sells used boots.
What’s the secret to the family’s 114-year success?
“Good service, quality work, guarantee and we’ve been around a long time,” Sam said.
“There’s a lot of word of mouth too,” wife LeeAnn added. “We’ve had people come in and say stores at the (Southlake Town Center and Grapevine Mills) malls sent them to Messina’s.
Besides LeeAnn, nephew Michael, cousin Diane, and son Jacob also are among the shop’s small staff. Oldest son Justin previously worked there too before opening his own J.P. Messina’s store in Flower Mound. Daughter Samantha also has worked there.
Sam and his staff use machines including a sole stitcher remaining from Joe Messina’s Shoe Repair. He said he hopes to keep working on those machines and others as long as he can and enjoys it.
Don’t look for that to happen anytime soon.
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