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Steve Johnson's 40-year-old sharkskin cowboy boots needed new heels and leather soles, so on Monday he brought them to Michael Zastawny'srepair shop.

"I like to patronize small businesses," said Johnson, of Plymouth.

He got there just in time.

Zastawny has prolonged the life of leather boots, shoes, purses and jackets — and even stuffed animals — for more than 60 years. But this week he's taking his final orders as he prepares to retire May 1 and close the shop on Central Avenue in downtown Osseo.

"It's time," Zastawny said. "I will be 75 in May, and I don't know how many years I have left. I have grandkids to play with and vacations I want to do."

Zastawny learned the trade as a teenager while working in the original Michal's Boots and Shoe Repair that his father opened in the former Brookdale Shopping Center in 1962. He later took over the family business and moved it to Osseo 23 years ago. Zastawny — who works solo — has repaired everything except the misspelling on the store's sign: The original sign left the "e" out of "Michael's," but he decided to leave it be.

"It made it unique," Zastawny said.

Zastawny's business is unique. In the past few years, similar businesses in Crystal and Maple Grove have disappeared as their owners have retired or died, Zastawny said. He's tried to find an apprentice to take over his shop, but has had no luck.

"That's because it's work," Zastawny said.

But it is rewarding, he said. He's done work for local politicians, former KQRS-FM radio host Tom Barnard and many local motorcycle clubs. Most of his customers come from the north metro, but he's had orders from the Dakotas, Virginia and Florida — and even has had items mailed to him from England.

Zastawny said he has lost track of the number of items he has repaired, but he has entered names of more than 20,000 customers into a database he started in 2000.

Ellie Moravec of Brooklyn Park was a first-time customer Monday with dress shoes she needed repaired before an upcoming wedding. Rob Weinberg, also of Brooklyn Park, has been a regular over the decades.

"He does wonderful work," Weinberg said as he dropped off a pair of Ecco shoes needing to be stitched up. "He's a legend."

Zastawny recently reattached the head of a child's stuffed bunny and handcrafted a pair of Birkenstocks for a customer's tiny doll. He's made special orthopedic soles and this week is sewing a new pocket on a leather vest for a motorcyclist needing a place for his pocket watch.

As news that Zastawny is retiring has spread, business has surged, he said.

"This is some of the busiest times ever," he said. Customers "are not bringing in one pair, but eight pairs."

Zastawny will work through April, using his Consew and Singer sewing machines, stitcher, grinders and polishers that date to the 1960s and '70s to repair everything he's taken in but hasn't gotten to yet. When the shop closes, he will also try to find a home for the relics that grace the lobby, including an antique shoe-shining station and century-old leather cowboy hat.

"It's really sad," said Samantha Denny, of Cambridge, Minn., who has been a customer for the past few years. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do."