Sewing machines were whirring and scissors snipping when I stepped into the Chaco Roving Repairs bus in downtown Austin on Thursday.
The vintage bus, where you can get your old Chaco sandals refurbished for free or buy a new pair of custom Chaco sandals, is parked in front of the Church on South Congress, 1511 S. Congress Ave., until Sept. 26.
If your old Chacos need some loving, you should stop by. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. daily, except Wednesday, when the bus moves to Speedway Plaza at the University of Texas. Longhorns can drop by from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day.
The bus itself has more than 170,000 miles on it, but not all of that comes from the Chaco Fit for Adventure Tour. Chaco bought the bus, which delivered kids to schools in the 1990s, and equipped it with everything needed to assemble and repair sandals. It’s been on the road since June, with stops in Denver and Nashville to serve sandal afficionados.
A new custom pair of Chacos
Zane Yanzick, part of the Chaco field crew, whipped up a custom pair for me in about 20 minutes. The timing couldn’t be better. I’m heading out next week for a 15-day rafting trip on the Grand Canyon with some friends who finally pulled a permit after a 25-year wait.
I also watched Yanzick refurb a well-worn pair that was getting some new straps. (Sadly, the pair had no-longer-available special edition Smokey Bear straps, which made my heart beat harder.)
“A whole sandbar came out of that one,” Yanzick said as he dumped out a few spoonfuls of grit. He’s also dealt with customers who needed replacement straps on sandals chewed by dogs and others who just wanted new colors on their feet.
My custom pair features black straps with the word Chaco embroidered in rainbow colors. Customers get to pick separate webbing for the main straps, heel straps and side straps, plus a buckle in their choice of colors.
A new custom pair costs $100. The factory is back-logged right now, so this is a great deal. Basic repairs, including new straps or minor sole fixes, are free on existing shoes.
For information or to book an appointment, go here.