Austinite turning his life around has livelihood stolen, wants to get back to work

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austinite Phillip Wiggins has always believed you have to look good from head to toe.

“Well, the rank to me is, as a man, you must take care of your shoes,” he said.

The Army veteran has always kept his shoes shined. It’s a skill passed down from his grandfather, and over the years, Wiggins has honed his craft and started “Boots Shoes Pumps” in 2019 after he built a shoeshine cart.

“I know how to do it because he taught me how to do it,” Wiggins said reminiscing.

It was a new beginning after a rough couple of years that landed him in a treatment facility to get sober and eventually to Caritas of Austin for housing — helping him get back on his feet.

“I work for myself,” he said. “I can shine shoes, any kind of shoe, alligator, suede, anything.”

Over time, the business slowly grew but took a hit last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. That did not discourage Wiggins. Despite many of his downtown customers going home and quarantining, Wiggins said he kept moving forward and has loyal customers.

He was making it.

However, last month, his bike and cart were stolen near the Plaza Saltillo Station after he stepped away to go inside a nearby store. The cart contained polishes, cloths, a toolbox with his tools used to repair shoes and a generator to convert his regular bike into an electric bike to help him get around.

He has since found his shoeshine cart, but the bike remains missing.

Today, he’s asking the community for help to find his property so he can continue to be his own boss once again.

“I’m stressed with the loss of my machine,” Wiggins said. “I know it’s here in Austin and I don’t know where it is, but I am lost and I am stressed. Please, give me a break.”

If you would like to help Wiggins or have seen his bike contact KXAN’s Candy Rodriguez at candy.rodriguez@kxan.com.

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