Customers step in to help after business fades for 16th Street Mall shoeshiner

Posted at 5:08 PM, Oct 06, 2020

DENVER -- The community is rallying around a downtown shoeshiner whose business hasn’t been the same since the pandemic began.

When the pandemic hit back in March, Downtown Denver started to look like a ghost town, but one man was still showing up for work every day.

"A shoeshiner is based on four categories: wisdom, knowledge, art and pride," Claude Thompson said. "I want my members to know I will always be there for them rain, snow, shine, it doesn’t matter."

Thompson has been calling the 16th Street Mall his office for over two decades. Shining the shoes of tourists, locals, business people, and even mayors.

"If you are in the business world, your shoes and boots should represent your job; you go to work with a dirty shoe on, you are not going to close the deal," Thompson said.

The fast-talking comedian is somewhat of a local celebrity in the area.

"I keep my shoes so waterproofed I believe they can walk on water," Thompson joked.

He charges $5 for shoes $7 for boots and $50 for a lifetime membership.

"He gives ya hell on your shoes," lifetime member Jason Kuzov said. "He’s funny and brightens up your day."

Claude’s smile began to fade as people started to work from home. Some days he only gets one or two shines.

REV Energy Services and several of Thompson's customers in the oil and gas industry started a GoFundMe to help.

"It will help Claude so he can keep paying his rent and buying food; we don’t know when the customers are going to come back for him," Kuzov said.

You can help Claude by stopping by 16th and Welton for a shoeshine.

"I’m not in it for the money, I am in it to help save his sole," Thompson said.