"As David Gummers will be closing his shop and retiring from the Footwear Trade in June, his last piece will be published in Footwear Today in May 2019. However, in this edition, I thought you might enjoy reading once again his funniest piece for Money Shop - it certainly made me laugh!" CT. Editor.


his month, I’ve taken a look at some of the stories that have amused me over the years, hopefully with lessons for both footwear retailers and

suppliers. I thought I would start with a tale going back to when we used to settle customer disputes by sending the alleged faulty shoes to SATRA for an expert report.

Most of the SATRA reports would be vague and say either the retailer was

right or the customer was wrong. Not this time, my father nearly fell off his chair when we received a report about a pair of shoes we had sold that had a hole through the leather on the vamp.

It read: “Dear Sir, We can categorically say these shoes are definitely

not faulty. The hole has been caused by the customer when he has been wearing the shoes when he has gone to the toilet, we found traces of urine inside the hole.”

My father burst out laughing, realising it was going to be interesting telling

the customer, but fortunately, the gentlemen concerned took it well and accepted the report.

Whilst on the subject of complaints, our worst incident was a customer

who sabotaged a shoe after using it for a wedding. The first time the customer returned the shoe with the sole pulled away, so we repaired it. Three days later the customer came back with a top piece missing and a nail bent round the heel of the shoe. I showed it to my father and asked if we could accuse the woman of sabotage. He said “Absolutely”.

I told the woman that we would repair the shoes, but if she came back with

them again, we would take her to court for self-damaging the shoes and she would be convicted of fraud. Her face turned red and she apologised, pleading me to fix them, promising she would not come back. In the intervening years she has been true to her word!

Back to lighter stories, I was a rookie training at the wonderful Charles

Clinkard in Newcastle. Anyone that knows Eldon Square, knows there is a shortage of natural light in the store.

This lady had brought in a dress which she wanted to match, so we found

what we thought was the perfect match. The lady asked if she could see the shoes in daylight. So we took a walk to the entrance, and, to our delight, it marched perfectly. On the way back the customer had an epileptic fit.

36 • FOOTWEAR TODAY • MARCH/APRIL 2019 I really was very green and did not know what to do, the story goes with a

modicum of truth. I dragged the poor woman back to the shop, while holding the shoe in the air so as not to damage it. I sat her down on a chair, got the paramedics and gave the lady a glass of water. The good news, the lady was absolutely fine and to cap it all, she bought the shoes and a matching bag!

Just one more, this has got to be my favourite tale about how not to

intervene in a sale. My father was a leather expert. This couple were buying a pair of shoes for a special occasion for the gentleman, presumably her husband. There was no doubt the wife was the boss, the gentleman was very meek and obedient. Anyway the wife rejected virtually every shoe I showed. Finally, I fitted a pair of Loake Arundal and the couple seemed happy. My father seeing that I was about to close the sale, said “You know that shoe is made from the best French Box calf leather.”

At this the wife got up turned to the husband and said “Come on, you know

we do not buy anything French. The wife was out of the door like a springer spaniel, the husband looked sheepish and embarrassed, but followed.

The look I gave my dad. But, hey, if these things did not happen where

would the fun be! There is of course a moral to all these tales. The customer is the life blood

of your business. The vast majority are a true joy, and even the ones that are not, give you something to talk about in training meetings.

You, of course, will never satisfy everyone, so don’t worry too much when

things go wrong!. I am sure the suppliers have plenty of stories about the retailers as well. Wishing everyone a successful 2019 full of great sales and the

odd humorous story.

If you would like David to look at your business costs, he promises that if he cannot save you any money you pay him nothing. But for every pound he saves, you pay him 15 pence.

If you want to learn more, email David on david@fdickinsonfootwear, call 01229 580654, or visit www.fdickinsonfootwear

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