For shoe polishing, it’s time to move into the 21st century. Forget the stupid spare T-shirt that you keep in a drawer, getting messier and messier over time with every polish until you throw the thing out. You can thank me later: the best tool for shoe shining is one simple $5 item – Gorilla gloves. As you can see by the photo, I use Gorilla Gloves to apply shoe polish. You can use a pair for each color family – I have a set for black, another for brown/mahogany, and another set for oxblood. These things last forever, minimize the mess on your fingertips and on the table, and do a splendid job spreading and embedding the polish onto every part of your shoes.
If you really can’t stand any mess on your fingertips, pull on a pair of cheap latex gloves under your Gorilla gloves. (Pick up a box when you’re at Home Depot getting the Gorilla gloves!) You could just use the latex gloves alone, but I find that the roughened surface of the Gorilla gloves is better for getting that polish firmly on to the shoe. The latex is very helpful when it’s time to break out the horsehair brush to polish the shoes. (You *do* have one, don’t you?)
In case you don’t feel like doing it yourself…
Silicon Valley isn’t a true urban environment. In fact, it’s a suburban wasteland. Tacoma, where I now live, isn’t a major city. No magnet hotels exist here; You expect to find certain things in an urban environment, such as shoe shine stations, non-chain men’s stores, thriving deep downtowns, and craftsmen and craftswomen of all kinds. All of those are difficult to find around Tacoma, or anywhere outside a major airport. So imagine my surprise, back in the day, when I once stopped in to a Chevron station off Montague and 880 in San Jose, to discover a shoe shine operator. A good one – in a gas station.
Juan Hernandez, the Shoe Doctor, is a find. He operates in the Chevron station from eight to six, five days a wee. He will shine your shoes on the spot and take drop-offs and pick ups. His work is exceptional. All the local cops and fireman come here to get their shoes done before an inspection or other occasion. There aren’t many guys like him around (you won’t find anyone doing this in, for example, the Fairmont in downtown San Jose). The cost? An unbelievable $7. In ten minutes or so, your shoes will look virtually perfect. He’s the guy I picked up the Gorilla Gloves trick from.
The Shoe Doctor can be found at the Chevron Station San Jose on Montague at McCarthy, Monday – Friday, from 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday.