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STRAP


Cheryl Taylor Editor, talks to footwear retailer Richard Smith of The Shoe Room Doncaster, winner of the Footwear Industry National Shop Front Award 2019.


Q&A:


Name: Husband and Wife Team Richard and Michelle Smith


Shop: The Shoe Room, Doncaster


Brands: Loake, Barker, Tricker’s, Cheaney, Sanders, Jeffery West, Fairfax & Favor, RMWilliams, Magee, Amor-lux, Hicks & Brown, Viyella and Annabel Brocks.


Home town: Doncaster Family: Our precious Son ‘George aged 4


How did you get into footwear? Tell us about your background and your current business? Before ‘Footwear Retail’ I was driving a Gas Tanker for a living, delivering Liquid Gas in Bulk to all manner of industry and hospitals. I was persuaded to join a ‘Cobbler’ friend in his shoe repair business. Within a year I had canvassed customers, researched English Footwear brands and introduced high class footwear retail to the business. Unfortunately after several years our joint ambitions changed, the friendship came to an end and we parted company to set up our new store.


34 • FOOTWEAR TODAY • MARCH/APRIL 2019


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? We have a store in Priory Walk, a small shopping precinct just off the high street in Doncaster Town Centre.


Do you have an online shop/website and do you use social networking for business? www.theshoeroomdoncaster.com is our website. We currently use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Linkedin and find Facebook our most effective form of marketing, by bringing customers to our store.


How are you finding the footwear market currently? Very competitive. Even though we have a ecommerce website, we encourage customers not to buy online from anywhere. Online shopping is destroying high street retail in almost every sector, so although we have spent several thousands of pounds developing and building our website, we use it mostly as a ‘shop window’. Whenever possible we advise customers to support local independent retailers and shop on the high street!


What’s selling well? Any particular trends? Which are your best selling footwear brands – and why? Our collection of Brands and Styles is so many and varied that we couldn’t really claim to sell masses of one particular brand or style. More customers are aware of the Loake brand than most others, probably because they are found in more outlets than other brands, even if the offering is limited. Personally, I don’t favour one brand more than any other as an entity. I respect, support and work tirelessly for all of them, but I do see ‘levels’ in the footwear business and advise customers of my professional and personal opinion for what it is worth.


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