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Cheryl Taylor, Senior Editor, talks to Ellie Dickins of Ellie Dickins Shoes in Hungerford, Berkshire Q&A:

Name: Ellie Dickins Shop: Ellie Dickins Shoes Limited Brands: Moda di Fausto, Haflinger, Ara, Wolky, Semler, Waldlaufer, Riva, Amalfi, Bogs, Cefalu, Mephisto, and DB Shoes

Hometown: Hungerford Family: Married to Julian for 19 years, dog, cat and Indian runner ducks

How did you get into footwear? Tell us about your background and your current business? I got into footwear due to the problems with my own feet. Having been a size 9 at the age of eleven with very long, narrow, shallow feet, I had always struggled to find shoes to fit. Eventually becoming a size 10 by the age of fourteen and having to wear men’s shoes due the problems with my hammer, and mallet toes, I really began to hate shoes. Having had a career in sales, and sales management within the healthcare industry, and still struggling to fit comfortable, yet smart footwear I decided to pursue the avenue of opening my own shop. After two years of fact finding I opened Ellie Dickins Shoes in March 1999. Initially stocking a range from 6 upwards, it soon became apparent that there was a growing need for smaller sizes and different widths. After 6 months I increased the size range from size 1 to 12 and in widths from AA – EE, and this still applies today. The shop only stocks European manufacturers, making good quality shoes that fit the foot well.


Where are your premises located and how many people do you employ? Do you have a high turnover of staff? Tell us about your shop, the local area, your customers and their requirements? Ellie Dickins Shoes is based in Hungerford, Berkshire, and we employ 4 staff including myself. Our turnover of staff is very low. I have one member who has been with me for 15 years. The last person to leave, who moved away had been with me for 8 ½years. The shop does not rely on passing trade. We have over 11.000 customers on our database, and people come to Hungerford specifically to buy shoes. Hungerford is served by an excellent road and rail network, and with it being a small town means it has independent shops not big chain stores. Hungerford is a beautiful town, with inexpensive, easy parking, one main high street, and is surrounded by beautiful countryside. With great café’s and eatery’s, coming to Hungerford makes a lovely day out. My customers return as they are given excellent service, fitting and foot health advice, and above all a friendly, welcoming environment in which to purchase their shoes. Sharing conversation with customers and staff, the atmosphere has been quoted as that of a party, or visiting friends. Often our customers have foot problems, are having to wear orthotics, or are suffering with other medical conditions. We offer a knowledgeable service, and we have customers being referred to us from chiropodists, podiatrists and osteopaths. We also have those who have good feet, however that are a size which can’t be found on the high street, and customers who appreciate service, and well-made shoes that fit well, will look after the feet, and are comfortable and stylish.

Do you have an online shop/website and do you use social networking for business? Ellie Dickins Shoes has a fully transactional website and is constantly updated with stock available to buy in store or online. We utilise Facebook and Twitter. However, I also market the shop locally by visiting local clubs, societies, as well as organisations such as Rotary, U3A and the WI to promote knowledge of shoes, foot health and why foot problems occur, and the need to wear quality, fitting footwear.

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