"It's more than just repairing soles and heels here," said Brown. "It's about repairing souls -- my soul, tour soul."
But these days, it's the soul of the city that needs saving. Or at least that's the perception in Durham. A recent survey shows that 49 percent of residents who responded are satisfied with the quality of life, and just 25 percent are OK with the city's image.
While 78 percent of those who responded feel safe in their neighborhood, 47 percent feel safe walking at a city park during the daytime. At night, it drops to 13 percent.
"There's a perception out there that there are areas that are unsafe, and it could become reality of that's what people think," said Patrick Baker.
Contributing to the negative perception are shooting scenes like one witnessed on Tuesday -- an apparent drive-by incident that happened on Holloway Street. It happened right in front of Brown's store. But he saw it differently.
"As long as I'm here behind this counter, watching the people out there walk by, people who are hurting, I see me," he said. "The only difference between them and me is just circumstance."
Only 36 percent of households asked to take the survey responded. Behind the numbers is money. The city of Durham will use the results to help determine where to spend resources like police protection.
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