05th April 2023
Bringing back traditions
We’re delighted to welcome some new traders to Bishy Road, and even more pleased to see that these shops are independent traders with traditional businesses. For more than 150 years, our traders have helped to shape our shopping habits, in the face of economic and social change.
On the corner of Vine Street, where Richard from Setting the Scene florist retired in December after ten years, we now have Simone Focarelli and his Focarelli shoe and leather restoration shop.
Programmes such as The Repair Shop have shown us how favourite leather goods can be restored and repaired for use once again. Simone and his partner Brittany offer general shoe and boot repairs and specialist restoration, such as rewelting, using Goodyear welts, hand stitching, leather sole and upper replacement. Simone said "I also mend bags and belts and replace zips on leather goods, and can repair trainers and walking boots, a very useful service."
Born in Adelaide, Australia in an Italian family, Simone started to learn leathercraft with his family before moving to Italy when he was 10, where he continued to help a family friend. He returned to Adelaide when he was 15 and worked for his uncle, eventually meeting Brittany there. They moved to the UK in 2016, where he learned additional specialist techniques. He met Beppe Lombardo when working at Trinacria last year, and leapt at the chance of securing the premises here, when Richard retired in December.
Simone has other talents as he's a keen guitarist, supporting singer songwriter Charlie Swainston and Kell Chambers in performances.
His corner shop was originally offered for sale in 1867, so that makes it over 150 years old. It was first a provision dealer, later a beer seller, including one who surprisingly sold pianos too in 1891. There's still a beer drop outside from its off-licence days.
In 1911 the shopkeeper Mr Potter was living here with his family of eight children, crammed into just six rooms. Bertram Shaw ran the off-licence in the 1930s, followed by his wife Nellie and by the 1950s their son, Dick Shaw, took over, living above the shop with his wife Doreen. It was mostly night-trade, as there were no groceries, with mostly bottle sales, with some draught mild sold to people with jugs, and later draught sherry. In 1970 they decided to take over the Post Office across the road, now the Pig and Pastry. For a brief period around 2000 the shop on the corner of Vine St was Serendipity, a homeware and gift shop, and in 2004 it was Martin’s Property Management until around 2011.
Intriguingly the cafe on the opposite corner, Stanley and Ramona, was also a shoe repairer, 100 years ago. Charles Hartley Woodward and his son Harold started their long lasting boot repairer’s shop here around 1920, the City Boot Repairing Co. Ltd., and part of their business involved making boots for the army. His grandson Terry remembers the old sewing machine inside the shop for sewing leather. They traded here for a lengthy period: Charles died in 1952 but Harold kept on until 1959.
We're welcoming another new shop which has just opened further along Bishy Road, on the corner of South Bank Avenue. Miloche is a boutique owned by Christine and Beverley Milner, a mother and daughter team from Acomb.
This business arose from an idea during lockdown. Christine had recently retired from her job as an in-store fashion merchandiser, and Beverley's travel business was limited by the pandemic. As a result they set up their online boutique, Miloche, selling ladies' fashions to the over 25 age group. As this proved to be successful, they extended the business by staging pop-up shops, for example at Living North and David Lloyd Gym. Christine said "Feedback from our customers revealed that this age group want to see and feel their fashions, and try them on, rather than rely on mail order and returns, although we still sell online. So we decided to set up our new boutique here." The shop includes an accessories area, swimwear area and changing rooms. They also have a click and collect service for their online orders, and free home deliveries.
Although most of South Bank dates from the late 19th/early 20th century, the Nunthorpe estate in the middle of the area was only developed in the 1930s. A corner shop here first appears in 1938, as Hannon's fruiterer, By the 1950s it was Shortle's, then George King, followed by Job’s. In a change of direction in 1997 it became Abbeyfields Veterinary Clinic, later absorbed by the Tower Veterinary Group, which closed here last year.
Great news, there are three more independent shops opening soon locally, so watch this space!