Barb Liberman in front of a display of some of the work she has done, including shoe repair and leather work she has done, including knife sheaths, clothing and moccasins. Brendan Kyle Jure photo.

South Cariboo’s Purple Zebra Shoe Repair calls it a day

Barbara Liberman retires after 47 years

The South Cariboo’s only shoe repair business has shut down after Barbara Liberman retired on Dec. 20.

For almost three decades, Liberman has been the owner and operator of the Purple Zebra Shoe Repair in Gateway and making herself busy with repairing the footwear from people in the community as well as leatherwork, and other projects.

“It feels really good. My mind is going a mile a minute thinking of all the stuff I need to do and clear out,” she said, adding that she needs to figure out if she needs to get rid of her machinery and rearranging the shop.

She also bought a camper but has no desire to do the “average” thing and drive across the country. Instead, she will just hang around local rivers and lakes.

After 47 years of serving the community, she said she was very grateful for the years of community support.

Liberman, however, is open to doing some work by appointment only and only for leatherworking. She said she will be doing nothing involving shoe repair, especially zippers.

It all started when someone influenced her into shoe repair and other work, such as leatherworking while living in a commune in Toronto.

She returned to B.C. to learn the trade at the Vancouver Vocational Institute, now known as Vancouver Community College.

“It was very tough for me but I got through it,” she said of her time in school. “It was tough because I was a woman in a male-dominated trade.”

One of her mottos, which she also offers as advice to everyone, “is just do what you love to do and don’t let anyone sway you from that”.

“If you love what you’re doing and you’re good at it, it doesn’t matter what your gender is,” she said. “If you can do the job, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.”

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