Posted by Steve Skibbie
Maybe it’s from my stint in the military or maybe I’m just nostalgic, but I sure love a good shoe shine. I own this pair of black Doc Martin oxfords that survived the 1990’s and can still hold a nice shine while being comfortable enough to wear around the business district of Downtown. I used to polish that pair of Doc’s on my own prior to meeting the amazing Anytime Shoe Shine guy.
I met Karl Johnson last year when I worked as an Ambassador with Downtown Fresno Partnership. At that time, Karl ran his shoe shine business by the Downtown Club on Kern Street. Even before we formally introduced ourselves, we were already familiar, as Karl greets everyone who walks by. Well, a few months ago, he moved shop into the northeast corner of the TW Patterson Building, across the street from Club One and Los Panchos Restaurant. The Roush family, who owns the Patterson building, helped Karl move into this space on the very well-traveled Tulare Avenue.
The whole idea that a guy can make your shoes look great while offering great conversation is appealing to me. It’s awesome, I think it’s like a pedicure, but it’s for real men who wear real shoes.
Karl’s life is fascinating. He came from a family of 16 children, one of his brothers played for the NBA. Sadly, Karl got into trouble and spent some years in prison, missing both his mom’s and brother’s untimely passing. He was homeless for a period of time and wound up in Fresno but didn’t remain homeless for too long as Fresno First Steps Home found him an apartment. He speaks gratefully of Mayor Swearingen and the City of Fresno for his “rebound” in life. And, did you know he’s writing a book about such? He can tell you all about his plans on that one with you, the manuscript’s ready.
Karl Johnson’s a real gift to our Downtown.
Go get those shoes shined, man!