Family business in reviving shoes

A family affair: A family orientated shoe business that has been in existence since 1981. In the picture Lionel Windwaai (middle) with his wife Anneliese (far left) and the two sons Terence Ryno and Clarence Lionel (photograph by Jenny Sitole)

Lionel Windwaai is one of Windhoek’s popular cordwainer or shoe maker and is the proud business owner of the Same Day shoe repair store in John Meiner Street.
The shoe shop has been in the Windwaais family since 1981, when they first opened for business and currently generate revenue of N$20,000 to N$30,000 annually.
Lionel inherited the business from his late father, Clarence Windwaai who was one of the pioneer shoemakers and shoe repairers to start shop in Windhoek. According to Lionel back then shoe makers were favoured amongst Windhoek residents as a persons shoes were seen as a symbol of class and Lionel’s father was the best shoemaker.

Lionel was trained by his father to be a cobbler and learned the tricks of the trade at the age of 16. Windwaai Junior took over the business when his father passed on. “It has been almost 35 years now and the family business is still booming,” said Lionel.
“Same day shoe shops are still as popular amongst the Windhoek clientèle as it was back then, we still make shoes on special request and still repair shoes and handbags. We even have special orders coming from the film industry and the Namibian Theatre also calls us for special shoe designs for productions they have,” said Lionel”
Lionel has big dreams for the shoe business and would like to branch out to a factory were he can also create employment for those that are unemployed.
“As much as this is a old fashioned family business we try to catch up with all the other competitors out there in the cobbler market. We have expended the business since I started to run it, as we now exclusively also repair canvases and tents and the business has gained a new clientèle that has made room for extra revenue especially when the demand for shoe making and repairing declines,” said Lionel. The Windwaai shoe shop legacy is one that Lionel himself wants to see being passed on from generation to generation of the Windwaai’s. Currently his a wife that is a receptionist and Lionel’s two sons are also part of the business as they work as shoe repairers and shoemakers at the Same Day shoe shop, which is indeed a family affair that Lionel hopes will continue.