Beloved EP business loaded up the Kia and moved to Beverly
Moises Compos — the man known as Moises the Shoe Doctor made an emergency exit from The Plaza in Evergreen Park, by turning his Kia Sportage into an ambulance of sorts that transported his business into Beverly.
“We just didn’t have time to inform all of our customers,” his grandson, Steve Sanchez, said. “We received notice of the closure in April and we had until the end of May to vacate the premises. We didn’t even hire movers. My grandfather used his creativity and built a shoe rack on top of his Kia Sportage SUV. It took 25 trips but we got it done!”
Many of the small businesses within The Plaza left 10 years ago when rumors of the closure first began to surface. During that time, Compos, of Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood was just a loyal employee to former owner and friend, Alberto Levin. Compos began working for Levin in The Plaza in 1969 shortly after he and wife, Maura, and their nine children arrived from Mexico, hoping for a chance for a better life.
Compos said wasn’t deterred by the rumors of The Plaza closing. He eagerly slipped into Levin’s shoes and purchased, what was then known as, Sam the Shoe Doctor in 2001.
For Compos, he said it was a dream realized. Prior to his arrival in America, he said he established himself making cowboy boots in Mexico. Compos said he was grateful to have a job repairing some of the same merchandise he had experience making by hand. The entrepreneur within him began to grow and he expanded the business beyond shoe repair.
Moises The Shoe Doctor is a retailer of western wear that offers repairs on shoes, purses, handbags, jackets, and boots.
The store also offers custom orthotic assistance. Shoe shines are another popular service that brings back the regulars. Sanchez, of Chicago, works with Campos.
So why in this age do people still have their shoes fixes?
“Many of our customers come to us because they have an attachment to the item,” Sanchez said. “It can’t be replaced anywhere else or it’s too costly to replace.”
Dorothy Tryban and daughter, Tracy Tryban of Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood have fond memories of Moises and his shop.
“Growing up in the Back of The Yards neighborhood as a child, we couldn’t afford a closet full of shoes like what people have now,” Dorothy said. “Shoes had a purpose. There was a pair for church, school and play. It was rare for our shoes to be replaced, they were always repaired.”
Tracy recalls being with her late father, James Tryban, in The Plaza, when he’d have his shoes repaired.
“Sometime it would be the heel, other times the soles,” Tracy said. “I remember the tap-tap-tap of the nail hitting the bottom of the shoe, tacking the new sole into place. I was just a little girl, over 25 years ago. It’s amazing they’re still around with all the big box businesses we have now.”
Yes, Moises the Shoe Doctor is still practicing but now in a location at 10935 S Western Ave, tucked away inside a small, strip mall.
“My grandfather has another 20 years in him,” Sanchez said. “We left Evergreen Park but we haven’t left our customers. (We want them to) stop in and say hello.”