Family businesses like this have almost disappeared

Argosy, in York Road
Argosy, in York Road

The recent Memory Lane Then and Now picture (Mail, March 25), of the Argosy shoe shop, brought back many happy memories for me.

My father established this business in 1945 and I took over in the early 1970s, running it until I retired 12 years ago.

One of my most lasting memories is of the loyal staff who worked for us, most of whom stayed for many years.

This was important because it meant they got to know the customers, and the customers got to know them.

The children’s department was a very important and pleasurable part of the business.

Mothers would bring their children in, usually at around 12 months old, to be fitted with their first shoes, and thereafter several times a year to have their feet checked.

We would watch these children grow up knowing that almost inevitably we would lose them, usually when they became teenagers.

They would then refuse to patronise the shop they had always gone to, and insist on shopping elsewhere, even if the shoes were no different from what we had to offer.

However, several years later they would suddenly re-appear.

Parents themselves now, they would bring their children in to be fitted for their first pair of shoes.

And so the cycle began again.

Family businesses like ours, based on customer service and satisfaction, have sadly almost disappeared from our high streets. I am convinced the country is all the poorer because of this.

The modern generation may find mail order and internet shopping easier, but I firmly believe they don’t know what they are missing.

Trevor Goosey,

Sandbanks Drive,

Hartlepool.