HOUSTON – Throughout the history of Houston, various communities have seen a lot of changes. However, the notorious Fifth Ward segment of the city houses one location that has not moved nor swayed from serving residents of Houston since 1962. Originally founded in 1959, Reagan Shoe Repair was established by Mark Reagan. During an interview, his wife, Mary Reagan delivered the history of the spot that has remained unmoved for over five decades.
Mark Reagan was born in Marshall. As a young man, Reagan would work for his uncle at a shoe repair shop, while in high school. While, Mary was born in Marshall, she was sent to live with her Aunt in Houston. After some time, she moved back to Marshall. It was at that time that she and Mark met and began courting one another. She explained that after High School, he was drafted into the United States Armed Forces. After being honorably discharged, they married and he enrolled at Prairie View A&M University. Not long afterwards, he earned his Teacher’s certification and began teaching at the University. Mrs. Reagan explained that he would still shine shoes, but he had a desire internally to go into business for himself. In addition to teaching, he began to pioneer his own business. From this experience, Reagan Shoe Repair was established in 1959. It was moved to its current location in 1962 which sits at 4209 Lyons Avenue, 77020.
Reagan Shoe Repair is a family-owned business. Although Mark Reagan continued his career teaching at Prairie View, he later began teaching for the Houston Community College System. He and Mary worked together for years, maintaining and keeping the doors open. She explained that it was, “a profitable business for us – we enjoyed it and our children grew up there.” Mrs. Reagan continued to state that they would alternate shifts at the shop. When Mr. Reagan worked during the day she would work at night and vice versa. She expressed that they kept their schedules that way until he retired from the school district with a fruitful career as an educator.
At a point in the history of Reagan Shoe Repair, Mrs. Reagan informed that she’d had an accident and bumped her head and was not able to be at the shop as much as she had been in former years. As a result, their grandson Larry Hamilton, Jr. stepped up to the plate. While he was in high school, he would come in, sit around, watch, learn and help with the business. Ultimately, growing up around his grandparents and being privileged to having exposure to the family business created an interest in Larry for the shoe repair business. As time went on, he would continue to work alongside his grandparents making note of the trade.
After the passing of his grandfather, he took the lead with his grandmother and another facet of Reagan Shoe Repair, Mr. Michael Perry. Perry had been the “Shine Man” at the shop for over a decade. He passed away in November of 2014. That same year, Larry officially, began operating Reagan Shoe Repair as a business himself. Determined to keep one of the only original Black owned businesses on Lyons Avenue open, he holds the shop dear to his heart. He expressed that, “It’s a legacy in the neighborhood and I wanted to continue it and keep it going.” “I feel the need to keep servicing the people in the neighborhood and other neighborhoods,” he added. Larry went on to share that, “People have been excited to see that the shop is still open and that excitement is what keeps me keeping it open.” He also indicated the significance that the shop holds in their family. He reminisced that in his youth a lot of his family would congregate and meet up there and socialize. “So there’s nothing like family sticking together – and that’s another reason, I keep it open,” he said.
Larry graduated from Northshore High School and attended San Jacinto College. In regards, to the Black community he encourages us to, “Keep our neighborhoods together.” He stated, “We notice the changes coming about in our communities, so we need to stick together, stay here and embrace our own communities.”
Reagan Shoe Repair is a full-service shop. Their services include: shining & re-conditioning, replacement of: soles & heels, insoles and heel linings, elastics, buckles, snaps, repair of tassels; orthopedic build-up of soles and/or heels, stretching shoes & boots; installation of: non-skid protective soles for better comfort, heel and toe plates for added protection; replacement and/or patching of: straps, zippers, various patch, gluing and sewing repairs. They also offer cleaning of: suede shoes and boots. Other services include: shortening of straps, resizing the calves of boots to make them smaller or larger, replacement or installation of elastic gussets on boots, installing zippers on boots and a wide range of other shoe repair related services.
For more information or details about additional services that they provide contact (713) 672-8543. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday, 10:00am – 5:30pm; Saturday, 10:00am – 4:00pm and they are closed on Sunday and Monday’s. African-American News & Issues is a proud supporter of Black-owned businesses and we encourage our readers to patronage those within our communities.
BY: Rebecca S. Jones | Photo Credit: