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article imageOp-Ed: He left a Hollywood life to become a shoe repair man Special

By Jonathan Farrell     May 14, 2015 in Business
Sonoma - Some of the most interesting lives can be hidden in ordinary places. Such is the situation of a small business owner who left the excitement of the Rodeo Drive scene in Hollywood to take over the family business.
Vinny's A-1 Shoe Repair is the most popular spot at the Sonoma Valley Center shopping complex on West Napa Street. All of the reviews posted on praise Vinny's work. Next to busy Sonoma Market, more people go to Vincent Pacheco than any other. Lots of people simply stop in just to say "hi" and to chat for a few seconds on their way in or out. Pacheco is pleased and wants people to know he will be celebrating his 15th anniversary this June.
Before and after...Just a sample of Pacheco s work at Vinny s A-1 Shoe Repair in Sonoma  CA.
Before and after...Just a sample of Pacheco's work at Vinny's A-1 Shoe Repair in Sonoma, CA.
Courtesy of Vincent Pacheco
"It is hard to believe time has gone by so fast, he said. Yet, I am happy to say, I just renewed the lease and I look forward to being here another 15 years or more." Pacheco explained that in his younger days, he initially had other plans. "I was taking a break from my work in Hollywood, going to work at an island resort as a fitness trainer. But when my dad became ill with cancer in 2000, I wanted to help him. So, I gave up that job opportunity and decided to help out my dad and carry on the family business." Actually, as he explained in more detail, his father Tony had retired. But wanted to pass on the business. "So, I told him we would look for a shop and I would buy the business from him."
Some might consider a shoe repair shop a thing of the past. Yet this is not so, especially for shops like Vinny's. "When the recession hit, I was unaffected. People always need shoes repaired in both good times and bad," he said. It's true buying a decent pair of shoes doesn't cost a lot; especially these days with so much inventory being imported from overseas. But a good pair of shoes that fit comfortably are a treasure. And, according to the Shoe Service Institute of America, for those people who spend a considerable amount of money for a pair of shoes, having a shoe repair shop nearby saves money.
 I used to see Cassandra Peterson (a.k.a  Elvira Mistress of the Dark ) quite often. She gave me tha...
"I used to see Cassandra Peterson (a.k.a 'Elvira Mistress of the Dark') quite often. She gave me that singed photo," said Pacheco. He displays it proudly among many others.
Shoe repair is a trade/profession that Pacheco's dad Tony handed on to his son (Vinny). Pacheco explained, I am a native of the Peninsula. I grew up in San Mateo on Santa Clara Way right there in the village and graduated from Hillsdale High. My dad had a shop in San Carlos and then later moved to 37th Avenue in San Mateo."
No stranger to working, Pacheco said his dad had him helping out in the shop early in life. "when I was little it was doing chores like sweeping up, running errands. But when I got older, my dad had me polishing and working on heels." His father always wanted him to take over the shoe repair. "My dad grew up poor during the Great Depression and World War II. He thought it important to have a profession, a trade, that way even when times are tough, a person has the ability to earn a living." But Pacheco had dreams of his own. "I wanted to venture out and try something new. Going to Southern Cal or Hollywood, appealed to me, he said. And, I just wanted to catch some of that excitement."
The wall of fame in Vinny s shop gives witness to his Hollywood days. Here he is with professional w...
The wall of fame in Vinny's shop gives witness to his Hollywood days. Here he is with professional wrester and character actor Tiny Lister, (a.ka Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Jr.).
Pacheco's interest in sports and fitness brought him to Hollywood. His upbeat personality and winning smile, helped him to mingle with the glamorous set of Rodeo Drive. Through those contacts he was able to aspire to acting. "I got small speaking parts on several TV series and walk-on extra work in a few movies. It was fun," said Pacheco. But he was realistic. Many people's dreams of making it in Hollywood get tossed around and lives get broken. And, instead of having a star on the 'walk of fame' along Hollywood Boulevard, their lives fall apart on the Boulevard.
"I learned from my dad to save money and to stay focused on business." Not to get carried away with the LA lifestyle, Pacheco kept his day-job as fitness trainer. He said he met many stars. "Most of the ones I worked with at the gym as clients were character actors. No major names, just people you know from a few films or TV shows." Each opportunity, especially jobs he thought over very carefully.
Pacheco admitted it was not easy with the temptations and allurements of all kinds. Still, he kept to his goals. "Sure I liked to go out to places like The Dresden, The Derby and it was fun to party," he said. But his dad always kept a prayer going that he would settle down. "Ironically, when I came back to the Bay Area, when I met Nicole (my wife) said Pacheco, she was from Los Angeles. So, in a way everything worked out coming around full circle."
Above the shoe racks on the wall of Vinny s shop are the many photo mementos of Vincent Pacheco s da...
Above the shoe racks on the wall of Vinny's shop are the many photo mementos of Vincent Pacheco's days as a fitness trainer in Hollywood. Some were good acquaintances and others were his clients.
In 2000 when his dad contacted him, Pacheco knew he had to leave LA and the Hollywood lifestyle."My dad's cancer was lingering, not getting better. He really wanted me to take on the business." He had retired and moved up to the wine country. Yet, he always felt it would be a good thing for me to have his shoe business, it had meant so much to him and given him so much in life."
Only, this time in helping his son Tony was willing to relocate the business and wanted to move to some place smaller, easy-going. "We looked at several spots around the Bay Area, like Benicia. But what we found here in Sonoma we liked most," he said.
Whether simple every day shoes or fancy expensive  haute couture  Vinny s A-1 Shoe Repair can handle...
Whether simple every day shoes or fancy expensive 'haute couture' Vinny's A-1 Shoe Repair can handle them all. According to the Shoe Repair Service Institute of America, having shoes repaired actually saves money, rather than going out and buying another pair.
Courtesy of Vincent Pacheco
Pacheco praised the management of Sonoma Valley Center. "They have been really good to me and to be next to Sonoma Market, everything has really worked out well. Better than I anticipated." Pacheco especially wanted to have a place for his dad to work in the remaining years. "Even when dad was not at his best, he still liked to spend a few hours in the shop. It was a joy in live for him." Pacheco was sad to say, "My dad passed away in January and I really miss him." Pacheco said he is very blessed and is proud to follow in his father's footsteps in the shoe repair business.
To help celebrate 15 years in business at the Sonoma Valley Center, Vinny's A-1 Shoe Repair will be offering free coffee and pastries to loyal customers. "I hope to have a little table or stand set up, during the month of June, we will see," he said. To learn more, call Vincent Pacheco at 707 996-6877
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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