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Retailer Spotlight: Friary Shoes

Next in our series of retailer spotlights is Friary Shoes. In the shoe industry, many businesses have been run by a succession of generations of the same family, much like Start-Rite and the Southall family. Friary Shoes is no exception, having been trading in Lichfield since 1904, they are now celebrating 120 years in business this year. Adam is the fourth generation of his family to run the company, doing so now alongside his wife, Tracey. We were thrilled to catch up with Tracey for this blog.

Friary Shoes store front

About Friary Shoes

Friary Shoes is based in Lichfield in Staffordshire, located in the Three Spires Shopping Centre. There is also a second store in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. In Lichfield, the store is affectionately known as the monkey shop because there are three mechanical monkeys in the window that children love to come to see.

Husband and wife team Adam and Tracey Lumb currently run the business, which was started in 1904 by Adam's great-grandfather, Sydney Smith, who was initially a shoe repairer. In the 1930s, he was joined by his son, Gerry, who helped with shoe repairs during the war. It wasn't until the 1950s that Friary Shoes began to sell footwear.

In the early 1960s, Sydney’s granddaughter and Adam’s mother, Vanessa, joined the business and helped with buying shoes to sell in the shop. In the late 1970s, Vanessa was joined by her husband Mel and at this point they started to run the business. Adam joined in 1994 and took over from his parents in 2002. He was joined by his wife Tracey in 2008 and they have run the business ever since.

Friary Shoes instore

Our partnership story

Friary Shoes has been selling Start-Rite shoes since the 1960s. It was important to the business to stock Start-Rite because, as a premium brand, it made a statement that Friary Shoes was serious about delivering a quality service and product to the local community.

Over the years, Friary Shoes has sold styles from across the entire Start-Rite collection, from a small size 2 right up to a large size 10. The shop is currently focussed on first shoe styles, trainer styles and school shoes.

Quality in children’s shoes

The ethos to deliver the best product and service remains today, with the team putting a lot of emphasis on great customer service and quality footwear. They have a lot of faith in Start-Rite shoes to deliver a great experience for their customers. Tracey notes: “Whereas some brands have lost their way, Start-Rite keeps their brand relevant and the premium quality has never changed.”

Favourite Start-Rite shoe picks

Friary Shoes tell us their best-selling Start-Rite shoe by far is Rhino Warrior (with rip-tape) and Rhino Sherman (the same style but with laces). The team enjoy selling this shoe as it fits so many foot shapes and is completely dependable in terms of durability and comfort. It also has a great rugged appeal. Tracey admits that both her sons wore Rhino Warrior at school and the shoes could last the whole school year.

Currently the boys Playhouse and girls Fairy Tale styles are also selling well due to their vibrant colours and fantastic, comfortable fit for the spring and summer months.

Friary Shoes today

Friary Shoes has 25 team members across the stores and this increases with extra staff during the back to school period. Between them the team boasts 300 years of experience selling quality footwear! Several members of the team have been with Friary Shoes for over 20 years, and Carron, who is the manager of the Uttoxeter store has been with the business since she joined as part of the Youth Training scheme in 1986.

Friary Shoes instore

Friary Shoes also has a toddler club, where they celebrate little ones visiting for their first pair of shoes with a collector card, which is stamped with a banana symbol after each purchase – to remind the children they visited the monkey shop! Once they have four stamps on the card they get their very own Cuddles the Monkey.

The team also supports local schools with vouchers to help raise extra funds, and they are involved with their local hospice, St Giles, who provide end of life support to local families. The shop has a recycling donation point, where donated shoes are collected and used to help children in developing countries.

You can keep up to date with Friary Shoes on their social media channels, with lots of video content and entertaining activities. They recently invited the local community to get involved on their social media channels with a small act of kindness, where nominees were in with a chance to win two pairs of shoes.