Shoe Making and Repair Store
"The middle class that used to be 90% of the population and the biggest user does not exist anymore."
Oaza: Where did you learn your trade?
Nikola Andrijević: I learned my trade in one place, with Marko Butorac at 15 Ban Jelačić Square, the shop's name was Kavalir. Now it is a café owned by his son. I did my entire apprenticeship there. I spent only short periods in other places but that is not important. I did not change locations like some.
Oaza: How long have you been doing this? Do you have any employees?
NA: I have owned the shop for 35 years and in 2000 I received a certificate of merit for being a distinguished Croatian craftsman. This is not a family business, I am a first-generation shoemaker in my family. Unfortunately, today I am the only one employed. My wife used to help me but since she passed away I have been on my own. During the golden age I also had two employees but today I barely make ends meet.
Oaza: Who are your customers?
NA: Honestly, I have not had regular customers for 20 years. The business is much slower than it once was. Materials are expensive and it is impossible to get people to pay for handiwork. There is no awareness of handiwork today. Circumstances have forced people to buy cheap Chinese goods that last a season and cost almost as much as a repair. The middle class that used to be 90% of the population and the biggest user does not exist anymore.
Oaza: Where do you get your materials?
NA: Materials used to be acquired directly from Italy but today there is no need for that because there is no demand. Everything has been brought down to a minimum.
Oaza: What do you offer in your product line?
NA: Mostly the classics – classical models that have not been updated over time.
Oaza: Who designed the models you offer?
NA: Some of them I designed myself and some designs are from Italy. What do my colleagues tell you? The shoemakers are not doing too well now, right?