Polishing up downtown, 1 shoe at a time

LACONIA — Nathan Daubenspeck began shining shoes on the suggestion of his father, Jim, who owns Labelle's Shoe Repair in downtown Laconia.
Jim wanted his 13-year-old son to pick up a work ethic and to learn a little about business. One thing Nathan has learned is that it's good to have a corner on the market.
"I learned not a lot of people do it. People say, you're shoe shining? I haven't seen that in a while!" said Nathan, who started in September of last year, setting up his chair and shine box on the sidewalk in front of his father's Main Street shop every other Friday. Now that foot traffic is picking up downtown for the summer season, Nathan, alternating duties with his brother Derek, will offer sidewalk shoe shines with greater frequency. Derek will be shining shoes this and next Friday, while Nathan will be back on duty on June 7. 
There will be a sign posted in front of Labelle's when on-the-spot shines are available. If not, customers can always drop off shoes to be shined and picked up later. The Daubenspeck boys charge $4 for a shine.
In addition to shining shoes at Labelle's, Nathan also heads over to the Laconia Police Department at the afternoon shift change to give officers a fresh shine. "It feels good because they're doing something for us, so we can do something for them."
"I really appreciate it," Nathan said of his new trade. "I like how you're able to take a trashed shoe and make it much better." He also likes how shoe shining gives him a break from his home schooling. "It's really fun. I get to hang out with my dad."
Nathan added, "Anyone who needs a shine can come see me or my brother."

Nathan Daubenspeck shines the shoes of Tyler Emond on the sidewalk in front of Labelle's Shoe Repair in downtown Laconia. Daubenspeck, and his brother Derek, will be offering the old-fashioned service more often this summer. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)