Sole proprietors

Rene Madina polishes a set of boots in the shop that Landis has operated out of since 1955. DAILY RECORD PHOTOS BY RACHEL WILLIS

100 years downtown
It’s a dying trade, not too many people want to do this anymore, this kind of work. The community of San Marcos and the surrounding areas, they all come here now and it’s been real supportive of our family for three generations now.

Businesses can be measured by many facets — profit margins, number of employees, customer reviews. Not many can be measured by the generations of a family. 

Landis Shoe Clinic has been in business in downtown San Marcos for 100 years. The business was started by Emilio Mendez in 1917, and has lived on through three generations of Mendez men.

It’s an iconic sort of business of days gone by. The smell of leather, oil and the slightly sweet and dank scent of old wood are the first sensations to register when you step into the shop. The second is the volume of history that hangs on the walls, old family photographs, reminders of faith, and autographed photos of country music legends that have had their boots maintained by the Mendez family over the years —George Strait, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Hal Ketchum and Johnny Rodriguez, to name a few.

The shop boasts a wall of family photos and autographed photos from some famous clients. 

Emilio was a dirt farmer in Uhland in the early 1900s until he decided to open up a shoe repair shop. He originally dubbed it the Electric Shoe Shop. It would go through several name changes before it became Landis Shoe Clinic in 1955.

                                

 The original safe from the the 1917 business The Electric Shoe Shop.

Emilio ran the business all the way through World War II before he sold it to his son Phillip Mendez. Before World War II, Phillip was working for the Mission Provision Packing House in San Antonio. While living in San Antonio, Phillip met Antonia “Toni” Herrera. They courted until he joined the United States Army and left to serve his country in Europe during World War II. 

Phillip returned to San Antonio after the war to find Toni. They married and moved to San Marcos where Phillip bought the shoe clinic. Phillip and Toni had two children Becky and Ronnie, the current owner. Phillip then moved the business from its original location on San Antonio Street to where it resides today at 120 S. LBJ Drive.

The business moved to its present location on South LBJ from a spot on San Antonio Street.

Ronnie was not avid about the family business as a child and recalls having no expectation to take over after his father.

“As a kid I didn’t even want to step in here, because my father, he was a perfectionist,” Ronnie said. “He was hard on me but he just wanted me to learn.”

Ronnie married his wife Irene Mendez, who Mendez Elementary received its name from, in the early 1970s. He picked up a job in San Marcos at the Job Corps, and then he picked up a second part-time job and started working for his father at Landis in 1973. He found that he actually began to enjoy the work of his family.

“As soon as I started learning it in 1973 and putting out jobs fast, I got to the point that I started making more money working part time for my dad, then I was working full-time at the other place,” Ronnie said. “So my father said ‘Ronnie San Marcos is growing, I’m getting older and I need help here, so why don’t you come work here?’”

He started working full time for his father in 1977 and when Ronnie’s father passed away in 1985 he inherited the family business. Ronnie needed extra hands after his father passed and he found that in a young afterschool employee Rene Madina.

“After my father passed away I had boots stacked all over the place and I didn’t know what to do. I needed help,” Ronnie said. “Rene would come and sweep up the floor, he’d pass by and watch what I was doing and he was just a kid and he’d say ‘Man I can do that.’ and so we let him do it. One thing led to another and he runs the shop now.”

A Landis sewing machine for resewing soles is what the shop was named after by Phillip Mendez. 

Madina started in 1984 as an afterschool job cleaning the shop. He has now been working at Landis for over 30 years and is considered Ronnie’s right hand man and who Ronnie is going to pass down the family business to, along with his daughter Christina or “Katina” Mendez.

Landis has not always been the only shoe repair shop in town. Ronnie recalled when there was steep competition, before time took its toll on the trade.

“I don’t know how my father survived- back in the ‘50s there was 1, 2, 3 others — one down the street, one across the street and one in front of the square,” Ronnie said. “It was a small town back then but apparently there was enough to go around for everyone. Dad survived, the others either closed down over a period of time and the last one that was here was back in the ‘80s. It’s a dying trade, not too many people want to do this anymore, this kind of work. The community of San Marcos and the surrounding areas, they all come here now and it’s been real supportive of our family for three generations now.”

Times have changed since the business opened its doors in 1917. Watches wind themselves, fashion is made more disposable and things aren’t made to be repaired. Landis Shoe Clinic has stood the test of time in San Marcos and has become one of the longest running businesses in a growing and fluctuating city. They have also found a new clientele in San Marcos, students who want custom-made square-toed boots.

 

 

 

 

 

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666