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Harbin cobbler going strong at 92

Updated : 2019-11-08

By ( chinadaily.com.cn )

Ma Quancai, a 92-year-old cobbler, works at his shoe repair stall in Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province. [Photo by Zhou Jina for chinadaily.com.cn]

Despite winter coming to Northeast China and temperatures in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, dropping to zero, Ma Quancai insists on arriving at his shoe repair stall at 9 am every morning.

The 92-year-old cobbler has run his shoe repair stall for nearly 40 years.

At the age of 14, Ma arrived in Harbin from Hebei province and for three years learnt skills in a shoemaking shop in the city.

After several years' work in different shoe shops, he became a rail worker in 1953.

However he didn't give up on his craftsmanship and often made shoes for his children and neighbors.

After retiring in 1990, he started the shoe repair stall near his home.

Ma is conscientious in his workshop and the low prices he charges attract lots of loyal customers.

"Although it is quite a small thing to mend shoes, I have to do carefully to earn the respect and trust of my customers," he said.

He also provides free services to people with disabilities and simple repair work.

As he got older, his children tried to persuade him to close his stall and enjoy life at home, but he refused.

"I stick with business not for earning much money but for providing convenience for nearby residents," he told local media. "There are fewer shoe repair stalls in recent years. If I stay here, the customers needn't to go too far."

"Furthermore the daily work can help me stay healthy and in a good mood," he added.

In recent years, every November to April of the following year, Ma and his wife stayed in Sanya, South China's Hainan province to avoid the extremely cold winter of the Northeast.

As soon as he returned to Harbin, he would go back to his workshop after only a couple of days' rest.

"I am quite happy that I will stay in Harbin this winter so spend the coming Spring Festival with my children, so I needn't close my stall," he said. "I hope I can continue my business till I'm 95 years old."


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