Cobber Bill’s is owned and operated by Bill and Maria Smith. We have been in the shoe business for over 35 years and are experts in shoe fit, repair and modifications for all types of feet, including many specialized sizes and problems.
Bill started his apprenticeship training in 1974 at The Lloyd Center Shoe Repair, which, at that time, was a full service shoe repair shop. His mentor, Bill Miller, had over 30 years of experience in shoe repair and orthopedic modifications.
For the first 13 years we were in business, we only repaired shoes. Bill used to try to educate customers about properly fitted shoes but he had no product to offer them at that time. Now, we ask if they would like to experience a better fit and can provide the best shoes and fit available! We have since expanded our business; we still repair shoes but offer expert advice and products for the best shoe fit possible.
Bill has a long, narrow foot and has had his own struggles finding shoes that fit well. This sparked a lifelong interest in learning about shoe fit. When Bill started selling shoes in the 1980s and people came to him with painful feet, he never gave up until he got them out of pain. He continues his learning process to this day and is still learning new things about the footwear he sells and how they work for his customers.
Since we specialize in people who have foot problems, we remain educated about how our stock fits because shoes are often not the size they say they are. We are able to help with many concerns including feet with problems related to diabetes, bunions, metatarsalgia, neuromas, fallen arches, pronation and supination. Learn more about these issues here. Of course, we also provide high quality shoes for those who have no specific problems but simply need a comfortable, supportive pair of shoes for their everyday life, work or travel.
We really enjoy our work and take the time to listen to our customers. We understand what’s necessary to get them pain-free! Our excellent service, technical help and knowledge of our high-quality products makes visiting our store a distinctive experience for our customers.
Meet Our Staff
We want to introduce the members of our staff to you and give you some background information on each of us. From left to right our staff is Michael, Barry, Charlene, Maria, and Bill.
Bill is the owner and founder of Cobbler Bill’s. He grew up in the northwest and graduated from Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver, WA. After serving in the military in Vietnam as an aircraft electrician, he came home and did an apprenticeship at The Lloyd Center Shoe Repair, in Portland, from 1974-1975, with the expectation of owning his own business. He bought an existing repair shop at Eastport Plaza in 1975. In the early 1980’s, he became passionately interested in technical shoe fit and his business began to take shape from there. The rest is history, as they say. Bill is not only our boss, but an expert at everything around the shop. Sometimes he gets pulled a lot of different directions, but he is definitely our go-to guy. Bill is without a doubt the heart and soul of the whole operation. You will see him at the shop just about every day (but Mondays) so come on down and bring your shoe questions with you!
Maria is co-owner of Cobbler Bill’s and Bill’s wife of 30 years. She is a native Oregonian, born and raised in Portland. After a few years studying at Portland State University and working various office jobs, she began helping Bill with the business in the early 1980’s. She has been involved with most facets of the business over the years. She helps Bill stay organized (someone has to keep that guy on track), and works in both bookkeeping and customer service. She is such a valuable member of the team and always greets you with a smile!
Barry has been with us for 1-1/2 years. He first came to us as a customer who had significant foot troubles. He moved to Oregon in 2005 from Kalamazoo, MI where he worked as a training manager and bio-chemist for a large corporation for 17 years. Luckily, Jean immediately recognized his innate talents, and we hired him soon after. He has been a quick study on both shoe fit and repair. He’s mainly in the repair department now, but helps out with fitting customers when needed. He is an integral part of the Cobbler Bill’s team!
Michael has worked for us almost two years. He has 35 years of retail experience, some of which was in the Jewelry Dept at Fred Meyer. He also worked for a mom and pop shoe store at the coast, which made him extremely qualified for our store. Michael is detail oriented and likes people, which makes him fun for our customers to talk to. He always keeps us entertained with his humor and quick wit. An interesting tid bit about Mike…he has traveled to Switzerland over the years, as his mom and step dad had a home there with a fabulous view of the alps. We’re so happy that he chose to come work for us!
Charlene has been with us for over a year now, and everyone loves her. Like Michael, she has had lots of retail experience. She started at 16 yrs old working for J.K. Gill and eventually worked for Fredericks of Hollywood as a manager for 23 years. When Fredericks closed their stores we were lucky to have her come our way. She has learned technical shoe fit very quickly and is very organized which is a huge plus for us! Not only does she bring her great retail experience, she also makes everyone feel welcomed with her friendly personality. A little fact about Charlene… she loves Disneyland. That explains her fun loving attitude!
We are lucky to have these people working with us. We all have our specialties, but do whatever is needed at any given time. Come down to the store to meet the members of the Cobber Bill’s staff!