By LeRae Haynes –
Tiffany Simard from The Heeler: Cobbler, Crystals, and Curiosities in Williams Lake brings skill, vision, passion, and a true love for people to work with her every day. The range of work she does is matched only by the range of the people’s lives she touches and the heart connections she makes.
The cobbler aspect of her work involves repairing and refurbishing shoes and boots. The crystals and curiosities aspects are reflected in a unique little shop where she sells a wide range of thoughtfully researched products promoting healing, beauty, and happiness.
Simard has been repairing and refurbishing shoes and boots on and off since 1989 when she was a waitress at the golf course and looking for a change. “I needed a job, and the owner of Bob’s Shoes and Repairs was looking for someone to cover a maternity leave,” she says. “Don Miller taught me how to fix shoes, and I loved the creative aspect of it. You need to look at something, visualize a solution, and figure how what to do.”
After some years away to raise her young children she found herself back in the cobbler trade.
“Just over three years ago my daughter came to me with a piece of Birkenstock material and said she needed her shoe repaired,” says Simard. “By then, Bob’s had stopped doing repairs. I looked at my husband, Ron, and said, ‘Why not?’”
She made Bob’s Shoes an offer and bought out the company’s tools and equipment. Simard and her husband re-roofed, windowed, and insulated a 10 by 12 tool shed on their property and The Heeler was in business.
She said the response has been fantastic.
Simard repairs, cleans, and refurbishes shoes, boots, and purses—doing anything but sewing. She resoles and replaces heels, has done modifications to shoes for people who have had hip replacements, and has even resoled a pair of dog shoes.
“I love taking something someone could toss away and use creativity to make it new again,” she says. “It’s incredibly satisfying to take something that looks tattered or unrepairable and give it life. It feels so good.”
One local physiotherapist has referred clients to Simard because of her skill in modifying a shoe or boot to support a specific need.
Her husband Ron works with her. “He’s fantastic—he keeps my Heeler tools and equipment excellently maintained,” she said.
She explains that nothing is wasted and very little is discarded. “Everything has purpose: every bit of leather, cut off heel bits, old pieces of insole. I use inner tube pieces for patching and sealing,” she says. “Everything is used to its core. Materials are expensive and reusing/re-purposing things keeps them out of landfill and keeps costs down.”
In her shop at 77A North 2nd Avenue there are curiosities and crystals—things to help you in a healing journey and things to surround you with happiness. She has been overwhelmed with the positive response.
“In my store I sell things I love,” she says. “Things that make me happy and feed my soul. I work hard to find things that are unique and creative.”
You can find meaningful home décor, jewellery, thoughtful gifts, natural health and beauty products, crystals, singing bowls, and things like beautifully made reusable food wrap.
“I love authentic,” says Simard. “You can find things in my store that do more than make your home look good—they make your heart feel good, too.
“I’m huge into wellness—things that make people feel happy and make them feel good. I always want to keep things as organic and as local as possible. Everything I purchase has been carefully researched and hand-picked. Fair trade is big for me.”
She brings things in from places like Nepal, India, and Brazil and features local artists. Stepping into her shop is like stepping into a dimension of peace and beauty.
“I want people to feel like family here,” she said. “Welcomed and nourished.”
You can reach Simard by phoning (250) 305-4187, by following The Heeler on Facebook, or by stopping by the store on 2nd Avenue, Williams Lake.
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer and instigator of lots of music with people of all ages in the community. She fearlessly owns 10 ukuleles, clinging to the belief that you’re not a hoarder if you play them all.