Providence Shoe Repair — Downtown

Mike Heimall, owner and operator of Providence Shoe Repair on Mathewson Street, should look familiar to shoe-owners on the east side of the city. He worked alongside Bruce Owensby at Wayland Square Shoe Repair for over six years, leaving (on good terms) in November of 2021 to open his own establishment. Owensby died last September in a motorcycle accident leaving family and friends, and longtime customers, bereft. For Heimall . . . “He taught me everything.”

So how is it that Providence Shoe Repair, which opened in March of 2022, already looks like it’s been there forever? The space had been empty when he and his now-wife Katie put their stamp on it. She provided artistic flourishes and design, and the all-important website, while he filled the shop with vintage tools and machinery (not decor, they are used daily).

Is there a difference between shoe repair and cobbling? Mike: “Either one is fine . . . I think cobbler has the connotation that I make shoes, which I don’t.” But he does craft a variety of items from all those rolls of leather stacked around (the place smells wonderful). From The Boston Globe:

He handcrafts leather credit card holders ($30); vaccine card holders ($50), which he said could take an entire day to make a batch of six or seven; wrap-style wallets ($60); oversized totes ($150); antique shoe horns ($5); and belts ($60), and said he plans on expanding his custom offerings to include various shades, sizes, and buckles.

The couple had no idea at the time, but the space they had chosen in this 1870 commercial block had once housed John the Shoeman (see below). Without getting all mystical-magical about it, there is a pleasing synchronicity to that legacy.

A visit to the store’s website reveals an interesting chapter from Mike’s past (written by his wife): “Run by famed indie wrestler and handsome man, Sully Banger, this shop focuses on specialty projects, high end repairs, and unique customization projects.” He has since retired from the squared circle. I include the IG account to prove that this man smiles for no camera, but he is friendly.

Store hours: 10am to 6pm, Wednesday thru Saturday. Please wear a mask (see below).

Providence Shoe Repair, 182 Mathewson Street, 401.486.6260, (directions)


Two doors down at no. 170, is the Little City Coffee & Kitchen which has some vintage photographs of the street, one featuring the large John the Shoeman sign.

Custom shoe polish. Artwork executed by Rick LaCapria of Fool Heart Tattoo, one door and one flight up at 184 Mathewson.

Please wear a mask. Remember, this is not over for many people, or anybody really.


Mr. Owensby is still greatly missed in the Wayland Square area. Bruce was returning home from a Patriots game at the time of the accident. WPRI ran a lovely piece.

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