Joe Jordan, 82, owner of Cato Shoe Repair, talks about how he and his wife tried to keep their small business afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Atlantans, others give $20K to save elderly couple’s shoe repair shop

After more than 50 years in business in the same Atlanta shopping center, Joe and Hattie Jordan thought the pandemic would kill their shoe repair business.

Atlantans and others weren’t about to let that happen.

After a story about the elderly couple appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, customers and strangers appeared in the shop with shoes to be repaired and money to donate. Other contributions arrived by mail from as far away as California. Sometimes the goodwill came in $20 at a time. Sometimes $100. And once, $10,000. Joe Jordan thinks that donor, whose mother has been a customer, doesn’t want his name publicized.

So far, Joe, who is 82, and Hattie, who is 75, have received about $20,000, Joe Jordan said this week.

“It’s overwhelming,” he said. “I had no idea people would respond that way.”

“I was pretty sure we weren’t going to make it,” he added later.

The Jordans closed their shop for weeks during the coronavirus pandemic, exhausting minuscule savings. When they first reopened Cato Shoe Repair, they had just two customers in three days. Rent and bills backed up.

Many small business owners around metro Atlanta and the nation face similar strains.

Three GoFundMe campaigns are also under way, set up by people who say they were touched by the Jordans’ situation. Those have raised another $4,000 and counting. Miriam Strickman Levitas, a Buckhead designer, organized one of the funds after reading the recent AJC story. She and her family have been customers of the Jordans for decades.

“They are lovely people,” she said. “… I want them to stay in business as long as they are willing and able.”

Joe Jordan said the donations will wipe out $10,000 in back rent and cover late light and water bills and expenses for past and some future supplies.

He applied for federal stimulus money but recently heard from his bank that he didn’t qualify. A customer volunteered to help him reapply. Jordan said he hasn’t heard yet whether he will receive help from his landlord, Regency Centers. His lease is set to expire in September.

The couple’s shop has been in the Powers Ferry Square shopping center at the corner of Powers Ferry and Roswell roads in Buckhead since 1966. They drive an hour and a half from their Clayton County home to get there.

Joe Jordan is hoping business continues to pick up.

“I appreciate the people and everything they’ve done. God bless all of them.”

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