Mauricio Dias's Competitors Could Slash Their Prices To Zero Bucks A Shine And It Wouldn't Make A Difference

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Do you yearn for the days when the shoe shine was a sacred experience? When it was something to look forward to? When, even if everything was in doubt, you could count on a shoe shine guy-- your shoe shine guy-- to whisk your troubles away? When it wasn't some kind of clinical, wham bam thank you ma'am encounter? When it was done with feeling? When you felt like there was someone out there who actually cared about your shoes? While most shoe shine operators did away with putting the client first years ago, there is one guy who still subscribes to the shoe shine industry's equivalent to John Whitehead's 14 Business Principles, AKA "The 14 Shining Lights." His name is Mauricio Dias. They call him the king.

Mauricio Dias was being courted by Wall Street. After losing his job at the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette when it was sold to Credit Suisse, he received a phone call from the office of Hamilton E. James, the executive who had orchestrated the sale, Mr. Dias said. Mr. James was starting a new role as the No. 2 at the Blackstone Group, a big investment firm, and wanted Mr. Dias to join him. Mr. Dias, now a 10-year stalwart at Blackstone, is no banker with a briefcase, however. He carries a shoeshine box...Mr. Dias, 52, is at the top of the heap in the shoeshine world. He charges $6 for a shine in Blackstone’s offices, while the Dr. Shine shoeshine parlor in the building’s lobby charges $3. Not counting the tip. “He’s a V.I.P.,” said Gotardo Cortez, 38, a co-owner of Dr. Shine. A spokesman for Blackstone declined to comment.

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...the modern shoeshine business has changed since the old days, reflecting the evolution of Wall Street firms from private partnerships to large, public corporations. Senior traders from Bear Stearns recall the days when they could put their feet up on a shoeshine box brought to their desks and banter with their colleagues as the deed was done. But that changed after JPMorgan took over the firm in 2008. At JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, teams of workers now collect shoes and take them elsewhere to be shined, leaving traders to work in stocking feet. Though many bank employees appreciate the efficiency of that updated method — harried traders sometimes claim they do not even have time to use the restroom — some longtime employees see it as an affront. “They’ve turned it into a sterile thing,” said James J. Dunne III, the senior managing principal of the investment bank Sandler O’Neill & Partners. “That’s where Wall Street has gotten more like a department store.”

If you like your shines administered by someone who cares but is also wearing less items of clothing than Dias, these people are probably more your speed.

Shoeshines Keep Wall Street in the Black (or Maybe Brown) [Dealbook]
An Appreciation of Leather and Polish Shoeshines [Dealbook]
Related: ‘Scantily Clad’ Shoeshine Girls At New FiDi Outfit May Look Like Hooters Waitresses But They Know Their Shit

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