Photos & Story by Joseph Boyle
This past Saturday I stopped by one of my favorite Lakewood businesses, Ardesson’s Shoe Repair & New Shoes, located at 9635 Gravelly Lake Dr SW. It was a busy day in the shop with customers streaming in and out for leather repairs. Other customers were buying new shoes.
The owner, Alex Bennett, found time to talk to me; and in doing so I learned some fascinating history about his Lakewood business. Let’s do some time travel.
Late 1800s – The Ardissone brothers learned shoe making and the shoe repair trade in their home village, Borgiallo, Italy.
1918 – One of the Ardissone brothers had a son named Ralph “Rip” Ardissone. Like his father, Rip trained to become a shoe repairman.
Rip’s father traveled to America and discovered opportunity. He returned to Italy and brought back his family including his brother.
During the process of immigrating to America through Ellis Island, the Ardissone family name was inadvertently shortened and Americanized to Ardesson, which for many was easier to pronounce.
The Ardessons settled in Montana. Rip’s father established a shoe repair shop in Bozeman, Montana. His brother did the same in Billings, Montana.
1936 – Rip’s father died when Rip was only 18. Rip took over his father’s Bozeman shop and ran the business until about 1961.
1936 – While Rip was working in Montana, Henry Pentimonte moved into a brand new strip mall called Lakewood Shops and established Pentimonte’s Shoe Repair at Ardesson’s current location.
1961 – Rip’s adventure of life brought him to Seattle. He landed a job managing the Bon Marche Shoe Repair Shop. One of his shoe repair customers was Elvis Presley of the “don’t you step on my blue suede shoes” fame.
1968 – Rip purchased Pentimonte’s Shoe Repair shop in Lakewood and renamed his business Ardesson’s Shoe Repair.
1970 – When Rip could no longer handle all the business on his own, he hired a young 16-year-old sophomore from Lakes High School. His new apprentice’s name was Alex Bennett (pictured). Alex started working after school and on weekends learning the shoe repair trade.
1990 – Some twenty years later Rip was convinced that Alex had learned his trade well and had become a craftsman in a tradition that stretched all the way back to early 20th century Italy.
It was time for Rip to retire. Rip’s trusted long-term apprentice, Alex, bought the shop.
1999 – Alex doubled the floor space of his shop in order to add new shoe sales. He changed the name to Ardesson’s Shoe Repair & New Shoes to reflect his new business profile.
Ardesson’s is truly a family business. Alex’s wife, Karen, daughter, Jennifer and niece, Sarah all work in the shop.
On the repair side, Alex can help you with problems with dress shoes, work boots, belts, handbags, golf bags, shoes dyed, leather coats, luggage and brief cases. Oh, for you equestrians, Alex can repair tack equipment too.
On the new shoes side Alex can help you with orthopedic footwear, comfort footwear and attractive shoes and slippers, which he calls, style wear.
I have to warn you. Alex is high energy and he loves to joke with his customers.
When I crack open the front door to his shop, I always kiddingly yell, “Alex, can I get some service out here?” He comes out from the back of the shop where he is running the noisy shoe repair machines with a giant Alex Bennett smile and his predictable “can do” problem solving attitude.
I have a high expectation that you will like his work.
Stop by. Tell Alex Joseph Boyle sent you.
You can find Ardesson Shoe Repair and New Shoes at:
9635 Gravelly Lake Dr SW
Lakewood, WA 98499