By Scott Campbell; Photography by Jadrian Klinger
Several years ago, I walked into Jumper’s Shoe Service in Mechanicsburg. My need was not one that could be called conventional. I had neglected to replace the soft-spikes on my golf shoes in a timely manner. When I attempted to do so, I discovered that several of them were “frozen” into their sole inserts. My subsequent effort to wrench them free ended up tearing the inserts loose. Jumper’s was able to repair.
The family-owned business on East Main Street has been serving customers since 1936 with just such special attention, the kind that is difficult to find anywhere else in the area. “My grandfather, Marlin Jumper, started the business, originally out of his basement,” says Roger Jumper, the current owner of the enterprise. “It was in the latter years of the Depression, and people were still not well off. Many preferred to have their shoes repaired rather than buy new ones,” he says. “My grandfather picked up shoes, repaired them and then returned them to the owners.”
Shortly after Marlin Jumper began the business, it was relocated to its current commercial location. Roger Jumper’s father, also named Roger, came on board in the 1960s. The younger Roger, now 58 years old, began his tenure at the shop in 1973. “I graduated from Cumberland Valley High School and then went to work here,” he says. “It has been on-the-job training. Everything I know about shoe and leather repair I learned right here. Sure, the shoe-repair industry has conferences, but my skills were learned and practiced at this shop.”
Marlin Jumper passed away in 1989, and his son continued to manage the business for another decade until medical issues compelled him to step aside. “That was about the year 2000,” says Roger, “when I took over.” His younger brother, Scott, is the only other full-time employee. Their mother, Doris, also contributes a few hours each day.
Although Jumper’s is advertised as a shore-repair service, it is much more. “We deal with anything that is leather,” says Jumper. “That includes belts, pocketbooks, handbags and baseball gloves.” A customer ambles in with a woman’s pocketbook. It is not leather, but a zipper on it is broken and a clasp on one of the pockets needs replaced. The request can be accommodated. Jumper takes a phone number and estimates the time to finish the work.
At one time, the business sold children’s shoes. “They were leather and good quality footwear,” says Jumper. “But kids today wear sneakers for just about every occasion, so all of that went away quite some time ago.”
What has not gone away at Jumper’s are many products that are not likely to be found at national retail outlets like Wal-Mart, Kmart and Sears. “They don’t carry shoe laces anymore,” says Jumper. “We have a complete line of them. We also carry insoles, arches, shoe trees, shoe horns and Kiwi shoe and boot polishes.” One of the more common services at Jumper’s is re-soling leather shoes, for both men and women. That includes high-quality women’s fashion shoes, like pumps and high heels.
For more information, call Jumper’s Shoe Service at (717) 766-3422.