Remember when Don Walker opened his store?

Published 7:23 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

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The small shop is crowded with shelves of western and work boots and rack of work shirts and jeans.  The smell of new leather and machine oil is heavy in the air.  Western hats hang from the ceiling.  Country music is playing on the radio.  A man wearing  a work shirt, jeans and western boots greets you.

Dianne Smith

Dianne Smith

“Can we help you with something?”

For two years customers have been greeted this way by Don Walker, owner of Don Walker’s Shoe Repairing on South Brundidge in Troy.

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Some people don’t know that they are being served by the first Republican elected to an office in Pike County, a veteran of the U. S. Army and Navy, a chief warrant officer in the Army National Guard, and the former superintendent of the Pike County schools.  Of course, this only names a few of the many titles and jobs Walker has held.

He has received two postgraduate degrees in education and business from Auburn and Troy State Universities.  These are displayed proudly on the walls in the shop.  Also displayed are autographed portraits of former President Ford, former Gov. George Wallace, the late Sen. Jim Allen and many other respected men of Troy and the state.

     Working in education and making contacts did not give Walker enough job satisfaction, however.“  In education, I couldn’t see results when I did something,” Walker said.  “Now when I do something, I can see the results.”  He decided to resign as superintendent because he worried too much.

“I like running my own business and being my own boss.”  “See, I do all the work myself,” he said as he extended his hands, stained and brown.

“The money isn’t in shoe repair; it’s in the sales up front.  I consider the repairs a service to the community.”  Walker sells work shirts, jeans, vests, belts and, of course, boots.

He has not noticed any increase in western wear sales even though the “urban cowboy” look is in.  “People have been wearing boots for a long time.  I was sworn in as superintendent in a pair,” he said with a smile.

Walker said his boots range anywhere from $50 to $100 and are made from snake, eel, shark, kangaroo or elephant skins besides the regular cow or buffalo hide.

The best boot is made of African elephant hide and sells for about $470.  His shop is not large enough to stock boots priced over $150 because there is little demand for boots that expensive.

Along with his business, Walker enjoys his hobby of collecting Civil War relics.  His war souvenirs include Confederate and Union belt buckles and uniforms.  One of the belt buckles was given to him by a retired school teacher.  Others he accumulated by selling and trading to other people.

Working and meeting people is Walker’s specialty.  He makes all customers feel welcomed to his store from a woman with two children leaving a pair of sandals to be repaired to a business-man in a three-piece suit looking for a pair of boots.  The atmosphere of the shop is comfortable and friendly.

Contented with his work, Walker sat on a stool with his knee in his hand and a smile on this face.  “It doesn’t take much money to wear blue jeans and boots.”

All of these articles can be found in previous editions of The Troy Messenger.  Stay tuned for more.  Dianne Smith is the President of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society.