3/10/2023: After 58 years a Kalamazoo business closes for good

Friday, March 10, 2023

High 36°/Low 19° Snow

A third-generation Kalamazoo cobbler is shutting down his shop. Also: A former secretary for KPS is suing the district, alleging she was demoted for complaining about misspent money. And area officials are warning people to be careful in parks and nature preserves after recent ice storms.

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NowKalamazoo Feature Story

‘It’s a shame because it’s such a needed business.’

A neon sign in a window that reads "Ed's Shoe Repair"

The Subacz family has been in the shoe repair business for three generations, going back over 100 years, including more than half of that time running Ed’s Shoe Repair in Kalamazoo’s Milwood neighborhood.

By the end of June, Jim Subacz says, he’s closing down the shop at 3928 Portage Street to join his wife in retirement – not because he doesn’t have enough customers, but because there’s no one to take it over.

Ed’s Shoe Repair started in 1965 when Subacz’s father, Ed, bought the business where his father worked as a cobbler. Kazimierz Subacz, known to friends and family as Charlie, got into the trade while he was in the U.S. Army during World War I. The shop was initially located in downtown Kalamazoo before moving to the then-new Corklane Shopping Center in the 1950s. It moved to its current location in 1988 and Jim Subacz took over the business two years later.

The future of the trade is uncertain.

“You’ll find people that will want to get into this. But in most of the country, they’re getting few and far between now,” he says. “The old guys like myself are getting out and nobody’s picking them up. It’s a shame because it’s such a needed business. You can make a good living at it.”

Ed’s Shoe Repair is still accepting work from customers. It will close for the last time on June 30.

Subacz explains why the 80’s was a tough decade for the shoe repair industry in the full story here.

Whistleblower files suit against KPS

A former secretary for the Kalamazoo Public Schools is suing the district, alleging it retaliated against her for questioning what she called misuse of funds and violations of the Open Meetings Act. Tabatha Coleman said she was demoted from her role as the secretary for the board of education after she filed complaints against it. She alleged the board unlawfully spent more than $248,000 in per diem compensation to board members since 2007 and failed to give adequate notice of public meetings. Coleman’s attorney, Eric Delaporte, filed the lawsuit yesterday. “My client hopes that the lawsuit will cause changes in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, that they will stop retaliating against whistleblowers,” he said.

Interim Superintendent Cindy Green said she can’t comment on the lawsuit, which she hasn’t seen yet. But she said the district investigated Coleman’s claims after they were filed on Dec. 29. “We used our attorneys to independently investigate the complaints, which found the complaint to be unfounded,” she said. Green said Coleman was transferred away from the board of education at her own request, and received a pay raise.

Superintendent search “boot camp”

The Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Education is gearing up for its search for a new superintendent. Trustees have been going through a “Board Boot Camp” over the past couple of months to prepare them to interview candidates. Last night, board members held practice interviews, learning how to listen to make sure their questions are answered adequately. “I wanted board members to feel confident in what it was that they were doing,” said board President TiAnna Harrison. “Hiring the superintendent is the most important thing that we’ll do and we can’t do that if we’re not prepared.”

The board also wants input from the public on the superintendent search. The district is hosting a series of listening sessions next week – some virtual, some in person. The goal is to get members of the KPS community to share what qualities and qualifications they think the next superintendent should have. The 12 listening sessions will be held next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at locations throughout the district and online. You can find a full list on the district’s website.

More News You Need To Know

Kzoo officials warn people to be careful in nature after ice storms

The ice storms that swept through the region two weeks ago didn’t just knock down trees in populated areas, they also caused damage in the area’s parks and nature preserves. Officials with the City of Kalamazoo are warning people to be “cautious” when visiting the city’s parks and preserves. Kalamazoo Public Service Director James Baker told MLive they’re working slowly on getting them cleared. “Some of the challenges with some of those passive trails is that we don’t have the ability to really get equipment in there so everything is kind of hand labor,” he said.

For the moment, the city’s main focus is on areas where people live. That means crews may not get to cleaning up parks and trails for a little while yet. People visiting those parks and trails can help by reporting obstructions to officials. People can do that by calling 311 if the area is within the city limits, or by calling 337-8000 elsewhere. “We’re committed to getting everything cleaned up, it just might take some time,” said Baker. [MLive]

Arcadia Creek playground coming down

The City of Kalamazoo plans to tear down the playground at the downtown Arcadia Creek Festival Site. “The playground is 20 years old and the necessary parts to repair to safety standards are no longer available from the playground manufacturer,” said Ashton Anthony, deputy director of parks and recreation for the City of Kalamazoo. The equipment has already been in disrepair for some time. The slide detached from a tower structure last summer and was removed. A press release from the city called the playground a “safety hazard.” The city plans to resurface the site with crushed concrete while officials consider future options. [WWMT]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

Documentary and Donuts: “For Sama” – Portage District Library
10:00AM 3/10

Kalamazoo Home & Garden Expo – Kalamazoo County Expo Center
12pm 3/10, 10am 3/11, 11am 3/12

Hip Hop with Speak It Forward – Kalamazoo Public Library, Alma Powell
3:30PM 3/10

Board Game Night – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
5:00PM 3/10

Skinny Hodge – The Distant Whistle Brewhouse
6:00PM 3/10

Alano Club Kalamazoo Comedy Show Fundraiser – Alano Club
6:30PM 3/10

OCD/C with Van Go Go – Rugger’s Up and Under
7:00PM 3/10

The Rainbow Fish Musical – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30pm 3/10; 2pm 3/11-12

Becoming Dr. Ruth – Farmers Alley Theatre
7:30pm 3/10-11, 3/16-18; 2pm 3/18

Hot and Delicious Improv Show – Dormouse Theatre
7:30PM 3/10

Maple Sugar Festival – Kalamazoo Nature Center
9:00AM 3/11

Your Story: A Chronicle of Connection – Public Media Network
10:00AM 3/11

Tribute Hike to Chief Noonday Grave – NCTA Chief Noonday Chapter
10:00AM 3/11

Youth Symposium- Overcoming Obstacles – Hillside Middle School
10:00AM 3/11

Rose Street Poetry Club – Kalamazoo Public Library, Central
10:00AM 3/11

Art Detectives: A Life Made By Hand – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
10:30AM 3/11

St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Downtown Kalamazoo
11:00AM 3/11

Hooley for Healing – Rugger’s Up and Under
11:00AM 3/11

Syntax: An Evening of Visual Music – Dormouse Theatre
7:00PM 3/11

Carrie Newcomer – First Presbyterian Church
7:00PM 3/11

An Evening With May Erlewine – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 3/11

Whiskey Before Breakfast – Parchment Community Library
1:30PM 3/12

Winter Blues Series – Final Show – Rugger’s Up and Under
2:00PM 3/12

The Gilmore: Maria Schneider Orchestra – Chenery Auditorium
4:00PM 3/12

Circles Around The Sun – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 3/12

See more upcoming events here.

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