A small staff of employees kepts Gus New Quality shoe repair afloat this winter. "I see them not as employees but as my friends," said marketing and customer service head Marcelo Coronel.

The business of being a cobbler has been in the Coronel family for more than 60 years, in Ecuador where Coronel's father learned the trade. Later moving his family to the United States, Homero Coronel worked his way through New York city shoe repair shops, before opening his own business.