About Shoe Shine Stands


Running a shoe shine stand may seem like a business opportunity right out of a movie, but shoe shine stands do still exist. The people who run them have flexibility and the opportunity to make good money. Running a stand requires diligence and a willingness to work as the local business culture dictates.


  • Shoe shine stands are an integral part of the history of American literary characters. The "shoe shine man" is often a beloved figure in books and movies. The fictional shoe shine man falls into two categories. Some shoe shiners are young men trying to make it in the world. Others are African American men who perform the service for wealthy white men. Today's "stand" is a bit different. Some shoe-shiners simply have a bag they use to shine shoes at the customer's feet. Others use a stand with a flat platform with a chair mounted to it, much like one would find at a hairdresser's shop. The stand also includes steps for the customer to put her feet on while getting her shoes shined.


  • One misconception is that shoe shine stands make little money. As a kiosk-type business, shoe shining can be lucrative. Airport shoe shiners charge around $10 per pair of shoes. Each pair takes only about 15 minutes, leaving open the possibility of earning $40 an hour plus tips during busy times. Shoe shine stands often have accessory items as well, such as shoe laces and personal polishing kits, and these items add to the business's earning potential. The best part is that shoe shine stands require the purchase of the initial stand, but other equipment is inexpensive. Shoe-shiners need several high-quality cloths; polish in black, several shades of brown, and possibly navy blue; a large shoe brush to knock off debris; and a toothbrush-sized brush to get the shoes clean.


  • Owning a shoe shine stand gives the owner flexibility. Shoe-shining really has its best business during rush times. Working a two- to three-hour shift early in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening may be the best way to earn money. The benefit of the stand is that it allows for experimenting to determine the best times and prices. Licensing requirements typically are straightforward for shoe shine stands. Depending on the type of stand, a street vendor license typically is needed, and those licenses tend to be inexpensive.


  • Some factors can reduce a shoe shine stand's profit. One factor is the financial status of local business people. Some may not earn enough to spend money on shoe shines. Another problem to avoid is setting up in an area where the businesspeople don't have the time to stop for the few minutes shining takes.


  • In the right area, a shoe shine stand still can earn significant money. Airports are the most common locations for shoe shine stands. When opening a stand, take a few days to look at how many men and women come by who have shoes that need shined. Then try to determine whether these people have the discretionary income to pay for someone to shine shoes. Those two factors will determine the market potential.

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