Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) travelers flying in or out of the C Gates, D Gates, and now the North Satellite can be sure they arrive at their final destination feeling a little more polished.
Some people feel their best after a new haircut or a mani-pedi. Another self-care practice that can add a spring to your step — opt for a first-class shoe shine. Lucky Shines Shoe Shine leaves travelers feeling like the best version of themselves — from their head to their wingtips.
In an era where work attire is often casual, stepping up on to the platform for a shoe shine at Lucky Shines is a real treat for travelers. A good shoe shine can set customers apart, showing they are detail-oriented and know how to take care of themselves. They can take a quiet moment in the hustle and bustle of the airport and leave feeling ready for that important client meeting, family reunion, wedding, or big date.
Marcus Smith has owned and operated Lucky Shines Shoe Shine, a minority-owned business at SEA, for the past four years. Smith started as an employee 17 years ago and has been providing quality service shining shoes ever since.
“I could tell from the beginning that there was a lot of potential in the work,” Smith said. “It is a very enjoyable job and you are able to meet all kinds of people.”
Over the years, Smith developed a close relationship with former owners Roger and Geraldine Williams, and when Roger passed away four years ago, he left the business to Smith.
Smith recalls that at one time people could take their patent leather shoes and get them shined on every street corner of the city — this was as prevalent as barber shops. Today, airports are one of the only places customers can count on to have a location to get their shoes shined and on to their final destination in style.
Smith makes stopping for a shoe shine a part of his own routine and makes a point to have his shoes shined at other airports while he’s traveling.
“Having your shoes shined is just a part of taking the time to present yourself well. You don’t want to go to a meeting with scuff marks on your shoes,” Smith said. “It’s just another part of taking care of yourself.”
Not only does having your shoes shined keep you looking sharp, it is a necessary part of properly caring for and maintaining a nice pair of leather shoes or boots. The polish itself helps moisturize and waterproof the leather, lengthening a shoe’s lifespan.
“Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money,” Smith said. “If we got a $100 pair of shoes we had to keep them cleaned and keep them shiny to keep them in good condition.”
Many people who stop in for a shoe shine have their own stories and memories of growing up shining their shoes.
“They say things like ‘I got a shoe shine kit from my dad and shined my shoes every Sunday for church,’” he said.
That nostalgia has turned into a tradition for many people. Smith sees many repeat customers who stop by on a weekly basis and the business is growing. He currently has six employees and is in the process of hiring two more to help staff his additional location in the North Satellite.
The Port of Seattle’s commitment to equity is changing the equation for women and minority owned business while expanding dining options for passengers. SEA deeply values working with small business owners, like Smith, so that the faces of the airport look like the faces of our community.
For prospective small business owners, the Port is trying to level the playing field for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses through its Diversity in Contracting Initiative and its Airport Dining and Retail program, which provides resources and assistance to help small and woman, minority business enterprises (WMBE) learn how to work with the Port and to find opportunities.
Smith said owning a small business is challenging but rewarding. His advice to prospective small business owners is to “be present; be there every day.” Smith stops by each of his locations on a regular basis to make sure everything is running smoothly.
“I love the airport; I love the energy here,” he said. “You never know who you’ll see or who you’ll meet.”