The shoeshine stands at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport may seem almost invisible to some travelers who walk by them every time they go to the airport.
With menswear trending toward more casual dress, even for work and travel, getting a shoeshine may seem to some like an outdated notion, a relic of the past.
And summertime is especially sluggish for shoeshining.
“Tennis shoes and flip flops” is much of what shoeshiner Charles Sanders says he sees during the hottest months of the year. “So if you don’t make enough money in the winter, you’re not going to make it through the summer.”
But Sanders and his colleagues at Master Shine have been shining shoes for decades at the Atlanta airport, and have even gotten a mention in the New York Times.
Civil rights leader and Bill Clinton confidant Vernon Jordan noted that at the shoeshine in the Atlanta airport, “my classmates from high school provide a great shoeshine,” according to a 2013 New York Times DealBook article on shoeshines.
“I have shined his shoes,” Sanders said of Jordan. “We give the best shines in the country.”
Now, however, the Atlanta airport shoeshine contract is in for a shakeup.
It’s been about 17 years since the shoeshine operation at Hartsfield-Jackson was contracted out, and the airport is now rebidding it, aiming to “freshen up” the program.
To read about what this will mean for shoeshiners at Hartsfield-Jackson, and how the world’s busiest airport plans to expand its shoeshine stands, get the full story on MyAJC.com.