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After boost from his brother, cobbler runs a one-man operation

Friday, June 15, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:31 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Jim Barker opened a shoe repair shop in April at the Forum Shopping Center. He said he keeps comfortable chairs for an old-fashioned atmosphere where regulars can pass the time.

Q. How did you get started in the business?

A. I have been a cobbler since March 1996, at the Columbia Mall in a store called Shoe Fixers. My stepbrother (Bill Rajewski Jr.) helped me with the down payment for Cobbler Brothers and was my partner. My brother got out of the service, tried cobbling and decided that it wasn’t his cup of tea. He left April 1.

About the business

Cobbler Brothers Shoe, purse and luggage repair Open since Oct. 1 One employee, the owner 1400 Forum Blvd., Suite 40 About the owner Jim Barker, 40 Educated through the Army and Duke University, Big Bend University and Chicago Community College courses First job: A cook for Pizza Hut


Q. What did you learn from the best boss you ever had? Or the worst?

A. I learned about customer service. Keeping your customer happy is the No. 1 thing so that they return and tell people how good you are.

Q. What parts of your ordinary life have you had to give up for this job?

A. The time with my (six) kids.

Q. If you didn’t own your business, what would you really love to be doing?

A. I’m actually doing what I love. But I did want to be an architect, and it’s actually what I took classes for. But by the time I got out of the service (Army), the architecture world shifted from drawing to computer-aided drafting. I wasn’t up for taking three more years of school to be up-to-date.

Q. Where do you see your business in five years?

A. Hopefully expanding to a second store in Jefferson City. As soon as this store takes off and I have enough money, that’s what I plan on doing.

Q.What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned in your business life?

A. I guess how much people don’t know they can repair their shoes.

Q. What Columbia business do you most admire?

A. Perry/Legend Collision Repair Center. I admire them because of what Bill has done in the last 20 years. He took three dealerships and combined them all into one body shop. And now it’s one of the largest mid-Missouri body shops from Kansas City to St. Louis.

Q.Describe the ideal employee in five words or less.

A. On time and takes direction well.

Q. What do you try to read in a day?

A.. The mail.

Q. How many hours do you work during an average week?

A.. 62 hours.

Q. What’s the motto you live by as a business owner?

A. Never be late.

Q. What keeps you up at night?

A. Nothing.

Q. What makes you stop what you’re doing and say, “What am I doing here?”

A. Nothing. I love this job.

Q. Who’s your greatest inspiration?

A. Bill Rajewski Sr. He has been a great stepfather, husband to my mother, and great in the business world. (He owns Perry/Legend Collision Repair Center.)

Q. How is running a business different from what you thought it would be?

A. It’s very time-consuming.


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