How John Bradley, president of Resole America, got into the shoe business

by Shea Gunther

I asked John Bradley, the president and top dog at Resole America (seen above in this photo taken a few years ago with his daughter), to share the story of how he got into the shoe and resole business. The guy is a whirling dervish of entrepreneurial energy but graciously found time in his schedule to put this together for us.

Here’s how John Bradley, in his own words, found his calling in the shoe business.

In 1971, after spending a year studying architecture at Syracuse, I hitchhiked to New Mexico to live with my girlfriend. There was just one small problem which I discovered when she informed me that she was getting married (and not to me) and moving to Ecuador.

So I kept hitchhiking west and landed in the Bay Area, where I had the great fortune of meeting a guy who was starting to resole tennis shoes in his mom’s kitchen, putting the shoes in the oven in order to remove the soles. That lead to a company called Tred2, which grew to doing 700+ pairs of shoes a day. It was two shifts, all hippies, loud music, a fantastic culture.

In the early 80′s I became a manufacturers rep for Asics, Brooks, and Lotto and moved to Boulder to start Runners Workshop, a retail and resoling shop on the Pearl Street Mall.

The outdoor wonders of Boulder started to interfere with work, so we decided to move to Virginia in 1986 so we could really focus on the business. The new venture was called the Sole Source and operated three retail stores, a robust resoling business, and the Shoe Bus, a bus that carried 1,100 pairs of shoes which were sold primarily to Giant Food employees in the DC area.

In 1997 my partner and brother-in-law died which lead myself and Edwin Herrera to purchase the company outright and rename it Resole America. Our strategy is to develop relationships with premier manufacturers that designate us as the authorized resoling partner so that we can provide our customers with a high level of quality and convenience. I’m really proud of what we’ve built and what we’re building.

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