The Shoe Centre Ltd is owned by Sean and Sarah Nicks and this is their story so far……….
My family shoe connection started when my Grandfather, William Charles Swayne (Charlie) would call into the local shoe repairer on his way home from school and in order to earn some money to help support his family he would pedal the tread wheel that powered the machinery.
From these humble beginnings he went on to pursue a career in shoe repairing taking it from being a back-street occupation to opening his own shoe repair business on the main street of Eastover, Bridgwater, Somerset circa 1928.
Shoe Repairing was a booming business at this point in history and my Grandfather went from strength to strength eventually buying Albert Terrace, Bridgwater a row of houses which he knocked down and constructed a purpose-built factory purely for repairing shoes.
My father, Roger Charles Swayne took over the business in 1962, quickly moving the business on further into contract work and additional branches. It was at this point that he moved into Minehead with one of these additional branches. A shop, known as THE SHOE CENTRE on The Avenue, Minehead, Somerset became available and it was at this point that my parents moved into shoe retail alongside repairing.
Some years later, I joined my parents and brother in this business, and it was at this point that I first met Sean who was an Agent for his family’s business B J Wholesale.
My family, Bernard and Carol Nicks, first started selling shoes on Newton Abbot Market in 1972, quickly spreading to all the local markets in the area and eventually ten retails shops spread over the South West. It was from the success of this that they made the decision to move into Shoe Wholesale ourselves, cutting out the middleman and in the early 1980’s B J Wholesale began.
At the age of five I would ‘help’ on the markets with my Dad, I remember that my wage would be the penny change from the moccasin slippers that we sold. There was never any doubt that I would do anything else other than join the family business and when I left school in 1982, I went straight into working on the wholesale side of things. I travelled the whole of the South West in my van which was full of stock to be sold on and inevitably I eventually met Sarah.
So, we met through our parents’ businesses and became good friends and for quite a few years it stayed that way.
Sarah’s parents made the decision to retire and Sarah took over the shop in Minehead. It was at this point that our friendship became a lot closer and the selling appointments became a little more frequent! We eventually got our act together in 1999 and celebrated the millennium as Girlfriend and Boyfriend. We purchased 8 The Strand, Dawlish, Devon, an existing shoe shop, in May of 2001 from friends Pete and Bet Philips within the shoe trade and got married in the June. Based on the success of this tiny shoe shop we expanded into the shop next door and now feel we offer a good quality display of branded shoes – something for everyone.
Having both been bottle fed shoes from the beginning of our lives we believe that we have combined the personal customer service of 1928, along with a little mix of the market ‘banter’ and brought it all up to date with THE SHOE CENTRE experience of purchasing from us in our shop in Dawlish or on our on line site where the experience continues.