A SHOE repair business is celebrating 25 successful years in Hartlepool’s flagship shopping centre – and is rolling back some prices as a thank you to customers.
First Class key cutting and shoe repair in the Middleton Grange shopping centre has been trading for a quarter of a century.
Proprietor Bill Reid is celebrating having been repairing shoes at the centre since 1972.
He said: “Apart from a brief stint as a bus driver I have been working at Middleton Grange for all of my adult life.”
Bill started work at Timpson’s which used to be located where First Class is now, near Marks and Spencer.
The shop became a fire exit and storage area when Middleton Grange was modernised and a roof added.
First Class first opened in Finefair supermarket in 1989 before moving back to where it all started for Bill.
He said: “When Asda bought the supermarket and relocated to the marina, I decided I wanted to stay in the shopping centre.
“That was quite nostalgic for me, returning to where I first started.”
Bill has built up a loyal customer base over the years and had some memorable customers.
He recalled: “About 10 years ago the circus visited Hartlepool and we repaired the clown’s shoes because the sole was coming off – I think that was unusual the most unusual repair I’ve done!”
A customer who moved to Colorado in America used to bring Bill cowboy boots to be repaired every time he returned to visit his mum.
Bill added: “The hardest struggle was coming through the recession, but the shopping centre has really turned a corner and we are growing.
“The best thing about running a business here is the people of Hartlepool. They are unique and I have met some fantastic characters. I really enjoy helping and advising customers.”
To celebrate the anniversary Bill is rolling back prices for cylinder keys and ladies stiletto repairs 25 years.
The offer will run from November 13-15 and will be limited to the first 100 people per day, with one offer per customer.
Mark Rycraft, centre manager, Middleton Grange said: “First Class is a great business that we’re proud to have in the centre and here’s to another 25 years.”