Jerry Kimble has made Eastside business professionals look a little more polished thanks to his expert skills at shining shoes.
Born and raised in Yakima, Kimble, 52, moved to Western Washington as a young adult and landed a job shining shoes at Nordstrom in Bellevue Square. Twenty-five years later, he’s a veteran of his craft.
“I love this job, absolutely,” Kimble said, while he used a brush, cloth, and polish to breathe new life into this writer’s well-worn pair of Dr. Martens leather boots. “There’s the camaraderie with customers, but also the instant satisfaction. They pay me to shoot the breeze and make shoes look good. Shhh! It’s the best secret.”
His optimism and laughter are contagious, and belie the fact that, for the past three years, Kimble, who lives in Renton, has undergone regular dialysis to treat kidney disease while working five days a week.
You can find Kimble outside Nordstrom Rack in Lincoln Square South at The Bellevue Collection Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 5-9 p.m. on Saturday.
Bellevue Downtown Park
Tavern Hall. Their chicken-and-waffles is pretty good.
To Be Inspired
Right here at the Bellevue Collection, when Kelsey Keough and Andy Mirkovich come and play the piano. They inspire me. Also, church inspires me. I get to go. I don’t have to go. It’s always a positive experience.
I love Law & Order. I like how they always catch the bad guy.
I like gospel and classical music and I like to listen to Mozart.
Uncle Drew starring Kyrie Irving
best pair of shoes ever owned
Allen Edmonds. They are standard, durable, and you can send them back for a new pair for $85.
Best advice ever received
“Do your best and, good or bad, your work will speak for you.”
can’t live without
I’m a Christian, so I cannot live without God in my life. I love Him. He makes all things possible.
How did you get into the shoe-shining business?
My best friend, Alvin Horton, was at Nordstrom and brought me in. We both trained under Morgan Perkins, who brought shoe shining to Nordstrom 40 years ago.
What would you attribute your success to?
Repeat customers. Most people know me from Nordstrom. I’ve already built a clientele in that respect. I would say, going back since Nordstrom, I have at least 200 regular customers. Some are from Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Symetra, and PACCAR. I have a great following. I have been blessed.
What business advice would you offer to younger generations?
Most people think, “Shoe shining? Oh, I could do that. It’s easy.” But when you are dealing with hundreds of dollars’ worth of shoes and different kinds of care for each shoe, it becomes a bit overwhelming. It’s not something you can just pick up and start to do. You have to learn the shoes and what colors of polish are going to work best for each shoe. It’s an art. It’s a skill.
You were diagnosed with renal failure in 2016. How has your outlook on life changed since then?
Life became more precious. You don’t argue over the dumb stuff. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just let things go. Don’t get so flustered over things you can’t change.
Photos by: courtesy menswear market; courtesy Tavern hall; courtesy moviestillsdb