AUGUSTA, Maine — There is a sense of tradition at Tom Finn Shoe Repair in Augusta. It is where Tom LaCasse works as a cobbler just like his dad did before him.
LaCasse works on anything leather: purses, shoes, coats and even a one time job of a 16 foot boat cover. He bought Tom Finn Shoe Repair 35 years ago on Water Street in Augusta and kept both the name and the love of working for himself.
"The harder you work, the better it is for you," said LaCasse. "You're not working for someone else. If you want to put the time in you will be successful. If you don't, you're not."
Shoe repair has been in LaCasse's family since the 1940s. His dad opened LaCasse Shoe Repair in Skowhegan 74 years ago. His brother Richard still owns that store and LaCasse still works on his dad's original Singer sewing machine. There's no shortage of orders at the store on Water Street in Augusta because over the years his competition has closed up shop.
"When I first started 35 years ago there were two other shoe repairs in Augusta, four in Lewiston, one in Brunswick, one in Bath, one in Belfast. I'm the only one left," said LaCasse.
Even though the 60-year-old enjoys bringing things back to life in what he calls a throw away society, it's at the front counter where success is measured. Interacting with customers about what they need repaired, but they aren't just customers. They're neighbors.
"I think that's why people like coming in here. They like to talk," said LaCasse. "I'm like the bar tender at the shoe repair."
There are seven shoe cobblers working in the state, according to LaCasse. That includes his Augusta store that is open Tuesday through Saturday.