The 58-year-old cleans and shines shoes in a traditional style dating back decades that seems popular with local residents.
“He polishes a lot of shoes at his stand,” said resident Dante Ridolfi.
“I think he’s good for the community.”
Knight grew up as an Army brat and said he got his start in the shoeshine business at age 16 while living on the base at Fort Ord on Monterey Bay. Knight made 25 cents for each pair of boots he shined and earned $5 or $6 a day.
“It was steady work and I would shine the boots of those living there on base,” Knight said. “I remember thinking that five or six dollars was enough to buy a whole bag of candy at that time. Today, I usually make about a day’s wage, and I’ve made a lot of new friends through this. You don’t see a lot of us shoe shiners around anymore.”
Knight cleans and shines shoes, boots, purses and coats. He explains that having leather goods properly cleaned and maintained can extend their life and ease the cost of buying new each season.
His clientele comprises local business owners, real estate agents, elected officials and the general public.
“He shines my work shoes and my dress shoes,” said resident Michael Scialabba. “He’s a real nice guy. Bobby shines the shoes fast and does a great job.”
The local shoeshine man has also traveled with his stand and done business at Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco and San Jose international airports.
Knight charges $4 a shine for a pair of shoes and $7 for a pair of boots. No charge for the smile.
Weather permitting, his shoeshine stand is open from 8 a.m. to noon Monday to Friday on the corner of 10th and B streets in downtown Tracy.
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