A Half-Century Tradition of Brilliant Service in Downtown Seattle

ByShannon J. Cortes

Jul 14, 2022

Nordstrom’s shoe shine family keeps feet clean. #k5evening

SEATTLE — For nearly 50 years, customers have come to the lower level of Nordstrom’s flagship store in search of a shine and to find a friend.

“These things are going to be like glass,” shoe shiner Brent Perkins tells a customer as he applies the finishing touches.

“A little treat for your shoes.”

Perkins’ father, Morgan, started this business in the early 1970s.

“There was a shoeshine stand in Nordstrom, and there was no shoeshine,” Perkins said.

Morgan lobbied store management.

“‘Hey, would you mind having a full-time shoe shiner like you’ve never seen?’ And they said, ‘Let’s try it.'”

The eldest Perkins retired ten years ago, and Brent picked up where dad left off.

“And then I learned to love it as I got older and realized the value of this place,” he said.

For only five dollars, a pair of shoes takes on new life. New friendships are free.

“It’s a great place for people to come and stop, and we catch up with them, we get to know their families.”

“So, how’s your day going?” he asks a woman who has just jumped on the shoe polish seat.

And the conversation begins.

“I have two older sisters and an older brother…”

Deals has changed over the years, attracting more and more female customers looking to spruce up their shoes, repackage sneakers and other less formal footwear, and survive a pandemic lockdown when business hit zero.

“I feel good,” Perkins said. “I feel really good. People are coming back.”

“It’s always about people,” Perkins explained. “There’s value in that.”

He ends up with another client and admires the final product.

“If I make them brighter, they’ll burn. They’ll actually explode,” he jokes.

Brent Perkins looks forward to another half century of providing “brilliant” service and making friends.

“It’s a great place,” he said. “I have no intention of going anywhere.”

RELATED: New Pike Place Market Shop Showcases Ancient Custom Shoemaking Craft

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