A seat beckons at Shine ‘N’ Up in Madison Heights to prop up your feet and get your shoes shined, an old-fashioned experience Manley Butler has brought back to Amherst County.
Butler recently launched the business in his daughters’ Cut ‘N’ Up barbershop on the corner of Dixie Airport Road and U.S. 29 Business. He has been having fun shining shoes while making friendly conversation.
“I’ve had an inkling for some years now, since I was in the military, shining a lot of boots and a lot of shoes, to one day when I retire and give me something to do, to open a shoeshine shop,” said Butler, 69, of Campbell County. “I thought maybe it would be good to bring back the old shoeshine profession.”
A retiree from the United States Army who has driven school buses in past years, he acquired an antique shoeshine stand in Nellysford and set up shop with his two daughters, Ellen Sprouse and Alexia Campbell, who cut hair several feet away.
The stand’s footrests date back to the 1930s and other features are aimed at making customers feel they are stepping back in time to an era when shining shoes on street corners, shops, hotels and airports was a common sight.
“I’ve always had my eye on the old vintage shoeshine business,” Butler said. “I still feel there’s a need for a good shoeshine.”
Older customers tell him they recall the memories of getting their shoes shined, he said, while younger ones enjoy experiencing it for the first time.
He said the service is geared toward business professionals, law enforcement, public safety workers and volunteers, and military men and women. On Wednesdays he offers $1 off for law enforcement, first responders and the military.
Butler recalls the pleasant memories of observing shoeshining while accompanying his father to barbershops as a child. While in the Army he especially enjoyed the activity and offered to do it for others in the service for a few dollars.
A maximum shoeshine takes about 15 minutes. Butler especially enjoys the conversation.
“We talk about the old times,” Butler said. “I’m willing to talk about anything a customer wants to talk about.”
Butler said the shop’s location on a busy stretch of U.S. 29 Business his daughters have operated out of for the past decade is a great location.
“This is a perfect corner right here,” he said.
Butler also serves customers with disabilities and can shine shoes wherever a customer sits in the shop.
Working alongside his daughters, he has not worn out his welcome at the barbershop.
Sprouse said her dad has been a great help in answering phone calls and booking appointments. The assistance has been much appreciated during a trying time in getting the business up and operating again during COVID-19.
“It’s been enjoyable,” Sprouse said of her dad’s contributions. “He’s had a blast.”
Customers also appreciate his smile, friendly chitchat and “entertainment,” Sprouse said.
“People expect to see him and keep enjoying seeing him.”
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