Replica shoes

Abandoned shoes have new “souls”


Shoe repair businesses are now allowed to donate unclaimed shoes after six months to registered charities under a new law.

Representative Angela Witwer, D-Delta Township, the legislation’s chief sponsor, conceived the idea after visiting a cobbler and noticing how cramped his environment was with unclaimed shoes, according to the director. Legislative of Witwer, Sophia Rishar.

Until now, state law required shoes to be kept for three years before they were considered discontinued. At that time, the stores were supposed to transfer the shoes to the state treasury to sell them as discontinued property, according to the Senate Tax Agency.

“Many cobblers, unaware of the old law, have held on to unclaimed shoes indefinitely, a deplorable situation that only exacerbates Michigan’s shoe shortage crisis,” Rishar said.

The bill has been fully supported by the House Commerce and Tourism Committee and the Senate Economic Development and Small Business Committee.

Reps. Steve Carra, R-Three Rivers, Matt Maddock, R-Milford, and Daire Rendon, R-Lake City, voted no in the House, while the Senate passed the bill unanimously.

Footprints of Michigan, based in Lansing, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to give those who need footwear warmth and dignity in footwear, according to executive director Geronimo Lerma III.

“The new law will benefit us by receiving donations of shoes that repair stores have abandoned, and it will help those stores have enough space for incoming inventory,” Lerma said. “This law will not only help these repair shops by freeing up space, it will give organizations like ours the ability to help others who need shoes.”

Jim McFarland, a historian at the Shoe Service Institute of America, a business organization based in Wheaton, Ill., said it’s a wonderful thing to donate because it helps people get back on their feet. The Illinois-based institute has been donating shoes to homeless people and various organizations for 30 years.

Matt Davidson, general manager of Gauthier’s Shoes & Repair in Traverse City, donates 40 to 50 pairs of unclaimed shoes a year to a women’s resource center, Goodwill and Salvation Army.

Davidson said donating shoes to those in need is a good way to deal with abandoned shoes.