Shoe’s the daddy? Sole trader Stephen runs a well-heeled business

THE Queen was only celebrating 25 years on the throne when the Taylors took over their business on Shaw’s high street.

 

Cobbler, Stephen Taylor

More than 40 years later both monarch and the cobblers shop are still going strong.

And Stephen Taylor, son of founder Les, has no intention of hanging up his boots and shoes at the product-filled Market Street premises.

However, Stephen admits he’s had to move with the times to remain as one of Oldham’s last few independent cobblers.

And he remains baffled by an as yet unanswered question.

“Why do cobblers cut keys?” laughed the genial businessman.

“I still don’t know the answer. I do know though at one time I would do three times as many shoe repairs as cutting keys. Now I do about half and half.

“Back in the mid 80s we would repair 100 pairs of shoes a day. Now, I am doing around 100 pairs a week.

 

Stephen in his shop on Market Street

“Most though are very big jobs with a lot of stitching. And that’s what I like doing.

“Anyone can heel a pair of shoes but when you are sticking soles on or stitching round a pair of leather soles, there are not many people who can do that.

“At one time there used to be three cobblers in Shaw. Now there are probably only three or four in the whole of Oldham.

“I am not a heel bar. I served my apprenticeship but even now after 38 years I am still learning.”

Stephen was 13 when his dad bought the business. Two years later he began a Saturday job that was to turn into a full-time career.

“After working here I set up my own shop and at one point had three going,” he said. “I’m still a workaholic even now.

“I’ve had this shop since 1993 and came back here to work in 2000. My dad moved to Spain before he passed away in 2010.”

Stephen’s business flexibility has seen him survive and prosper – even becoming an agent for Turners dry cleaning in Royton- despite a general downturn in high street retailing.

“You need everything because one thing is not enough,” he explained.

“Fortunately, I have a good name. I have customers from Delph and Diggle, another customer from London sends me four pairs boxed up and there are others in Leeds and Southport.

“You have to have a rapport with customers. Some people are so miserable; there is no interaction.

“Sometimes, I have dropped the odd clanger, but I am not going to change the way I am now.”

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