Joe Costanza knows shoes, and he’s back in the business he enjoys.

Joe Costanza knows shoes, and he’s back in the business he enjoys.

He’s owned shoe-repair shops around the metro area for 40 years, and now he’s opened a shop just west of the Square in Independence.

“A lot of people do hobbies. I have no hobbies. I love to do this,” he says.

It turns out that retirement didn’t agree with him.

“I kind of got burned out, I guess. I sold the shop (in Lee’s Summit), a year ago September. Then I got stir crazy,” he said.

So Costanza, 67, jumped back in, buying equipment and supplies and finding a spot at 405 W. Lexington Ave. He opened the shop in September.

While most pairs of shoes these days are bought, worn and then tossed aside, Costanza’s customers will come in with that special pair of cowboy boots, orthopedic shoes or maybe a leather purse.

“They’re not going to throw them away, so they bring them in,” he says.

He says the key is using good material and giving good service.

“The biggest part of our work, too, is comfort,” he says.

Just how thrifty are you?

I keep trying to impress upon my teenage son that cheapness is good.

Since he’s lobbying for a new HD television in time for Olympic hockey – game 1, U.S. vs. Switzerland, is only 112 days away – he’s found the best leverage available, but it probably won’t be enough.

I’m just cheap, and I want others to rush to my defense.

Let me give you an example – the simple function of writing down the what, when and where of your life. Once you miss a root canal or your kid’s piano recital, you realize that scribbling appointments onto odd scraps of paper doesn’t get it done.

The question is how much a well-ordered life should cost. Walk into an office supplies store, and a decent planner can easily run $20. If you’re into the whole Franklin Covey experience – there’s a store at Crown Center – you can pay three or four times that much.

Or you can pay $1. That’s what I do.

Each year around this time, I realize it’s time to get the planner for the upcoming 12 months, and I refuse to pay very much. I scour the dollar stores, and Eastern Jackson County has its share.

Eventually, I hit gold. Nevermind how much gas and time I’ve invested. By golly I’ve spent $1 and saved $19. It makes me feel righteous for a week.

No, I’m not this way when it comes to aluminum foil, fishing rods or Snickers bars, but something about $20 for a simple calendar just makes me say “no” – and I’m not alone.

So help me out. What are your hidden bargains? What is that one item that’s worth an extra hour of driving and hunting and standing in line to save big bucks?

Send me a note at, or look me up on Facebook. I’ll collect some of the answers for a future column.