A Dying Trade: Marko Zidar is the Only Shoemaker in Town - Našice, Slavonia

The situation in Slavonia is far from a blooming one, at least in economic terms, and while Croatian pensions continue to be small, often forcing their recipients to continue to work in any way that they can, for some that just isn't sustainable, not because of the economic situation as such, but because of time.

As Novac/Jutarnji writes on the 21st of May, 2019, despite the fact that shoemaker Marko Zidar has now retired, he chose to continue to work. He says that he does so for some additional income, because Croatia's pensions are small, but also because of the love he has towards this work. He has been the only shoemaker in Našice, a town in Slavonia in Eastern Croatia, for more than thirty years, and he continues to work because this occupation is considered to be scare, Glas Slavonije writes.

His work is well known to Našiče's locals, but over the last several years, the locals of this town in almost overlooked Slavonia have barely visited him. Why? Because there is no longer any high quality footwear that needs to be repaired.

"It's easier to buy [shoes] cheaper now, and people with lower wages can't even afford leather, expensive but high quality footwear," says Zidar.

He repairs women's, men's, children's shoes, those that need only a little stitching up, those that are completely worn down, those which just need a new heel, and also those that just need a bit of ''scrubbing up''. In additon to working with shoes, he also works with purses and belts, but everything is much less than it ever was before in this dying profession. Although the cost of his work has been sustainable and has barely changed for almost twenty years now, Zidar's number of customers has dropped significantly, and the materials he needs are more expensive, so this type of job is carrying with it less and less profit, not to mention sense.

"The problem is the raw materials that I can't get in Croatia, I've got to order it from Germany and Italy," says Zidar, and concludes that he can't make a decent living from that job. He's been known to have repaired as many as forty pairs of shoes in a single day, but today, he deals with that amount in one week, if he's lucky. Today, he grabs work here and there and whenever he can, and it happens that people bring their shoes to the repair and then just leave them there, not returning to pick them up again.

"I waste material and my time, and I can't get either of them back - it's disappointing," says the shoemaker from Slavonia.

He studied this craft in Zagreb and this profession did very well when such a trade was in high demand, once upon a time, but then things began to change rather drastically. Despite the change ''of the wind'', Zidar never regretted his choice. Now, after thirty years of work as an entrepreneur, and after having retired, he nurtures his skill and his craft. At the beginning back when he started his own business, he worked all day and all night and earned very good money, even training his son in the same skill.

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