Just as a trip to Starbucks has been removed from the routines of many people, so has a stop at a shoeshine shop, the New York Times reported on Friday.

In another sign that people are watching what they spend as the economy continues to slide, the five shoeshine stands in Grand Terminal Station in New York City report a drop from some 700 customers a day to 600.

"They tell me, 'maybe tomorrow,' " said Eddie Ardaix, 49, who owns all five stands. "The ones who said yes every day, now it's one day yes, one day no."

When the Wall Street crowd starts getting nervous about a $4 shoeshine, something has to be wrong. I've only had my shoes shined a few times, but it is relaxing and better than having to do it yourself.

"Getting your shoes shined -- it's a little cathartic," Randall Devere, an investment banker, told the Times. Devere said he comes to get his shoes shined a little less often than he once did, just as he now keeps an eye on the price of sandwiches he buys for lunch. "I think it's in the back of a lot of people's minds," he said.

But the shoeshine stands' owner, Ardaix, reported an upside to the drop in business: More people are coming in for shoe repairs and trying to salvage a pair of shoes that might have otherwise simply been replaced. Repair business is up 20 to 25%, Ardaix said.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job hunt at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com


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