Brand Leege knew well before he graduated high school what he planned to do the rest of his life.
“I used to laugh in high school when the teacher would ask me what I wanted to do when I got out of school. I told them, ‘I got a job. I know what I’m going to do.'”
Leege didn’t need to apply for the job, either — he would follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather at Dauphine Shoeteria, the shoe repair business his grandfather started 97 years ago.
“My grandfather opened up in 1922 right down the street,” Leege said. “I started working down here when I was in high school, and then after I got out of the Navy in 1968, I came back to work for my father. We worked together until 1985 when he passed away, then my mother and I ran it until she passed away 12 years ago.”
Leege runs the business now, serving customers with the same smile and friendly help their parents and grandparents received from his father and grandfather before him. Leege says folks drive from all over Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida to see him.
“I’m real proud of that reputation,” Leege said. “It’s nice when you go somewhere, walking through the store and somebody says, ‘Hey Mr. Dauphine! How you doing?'”
Leege mainly fixes shoes, purses and luggage, although he says he’ll try to fix anything that you can bring through the front door. The most memorable item he’s been asked to fix?
“A leather G-string,” Leege laughed.
Leege says his customers inspire him to keep working, despite reaching and passing the traditional retirement age.
“I’ve got great customers,” Leege said.
Dauphine Shoeteria is located at 208 Conti Street and is open weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5:15 p.m.