Peter Limmer & Sons: Bootmakers

Last weekend, after the Wildman Biathlon, Debbie and I stopped at Peter Limmer & Sons in Intervale, New Hampshire. It had been a few years since I stopped at Limmer, but I wanted to drop off my boots for a simple refinishing.

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I got my custom “Limmer’s” 15 years ago in 2002 after waiting four years. The current backlog is shorter, but at the time, output was lower following an injury that Peter suffered while racing a dragster snowmobile. I remember the wait well because I mailed my $35 deposit (it’s now $50) during one Winter Olympics, and received my boot shipment during another. Peter, Jr. the proprietor, master bookmaker/shoemaker, and 40+ year veteran of the company, was the only one at the shop late on Saturday afternoon.

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I showed him my boots and he commented that they didn’t need refinishing. They were in great shape. In recent years, I have only worn them for trail work and bumming around. They are classic Tyrolean style boots, made with thick leather uppers, a heavy last, and rugged Vibram soles. These aren’t trail running shoes! On one of the boots, a gap had formed between the tread and the sole. He said it wouldn’t take long to repair it and suggested that Debbie and I go into North Conway, walk around a bit, and come back in an hour before he closed up for the day. He said they would be ready.

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We took his suggestion, left the boots, and went in to town. I wrote my Wildman blog post near the bar at Flatbread, and Debbie did some shopping. I returned to Limmer just before five to pickup the boots. Peter and I had a great chat. We talked about boots, family business, Horst Engineering, our mutual love of the White Mountains, aluminum casting, motorcycles, precision machining, succession, custom bicycles, and a whole host of other interesting topics.

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It was a great conversation. I bought a pair of new leather laces for $7.50 before departing with my newly repaired boots, probably good for another 15 years. I have a real appreciation for craftsmen like Peter, and my uncle Steven, and my grandfather, Harry (Horst). Peter’s father, Peter, Sr. started the business in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, before moving to New Hampshire in 1950. Like my grandfather, Peter, Sr.’s father came from Germany. Peter, Jr. learned his trade from his father like my uncle learned his trade from my grandfather. Peter’s grandfather was a master shoemaker in the Bavarian Alps, whereas my grandfather was a mechanical engineer and toolmaker from Bad Liebenstein.

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It’s great to see how stuff is made. Our country has to retain these skills. When you read a story like this, you realize that my boots are far more than walking shoes.

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