Peoria, Il – Ray Khattar laces up for each day of work one foot in front of the other. Leather, glue and soles line the walls of his business in Peoria, “Fred’s Shoe Repair”.
Khattar grew up around the artistic science and now teaches his own son. His father Fred was a shoe cobbler who immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon in 1957.
“I would just sit there and watch. I would do my homework and watch him work away and then just for something different and wanting to hang out with my dad," said Khattar.
For 35 years, Fred ran the original “Fred’s Shoe Repair” store before Khattar took on the business. And while his 90-year old father has since passed away, Khattar is carrying out his memory.
“Up until two weeks before he passed, he was in here sitting right in that chair watching myself and my son work. He enjoyed that immensely," Khattar said.
Just like each customer, each shoe that makes its way through the shop doors has a different story. But Khattar says one theme that’s consistent is his passion for people and his profession.
He said, “You gotta love what you do. You know and I enjoy this work so much. You know it’s just like, it’s fun to see the joy on people’s faces when they pick it up.”