Well, they say time flies when you’re enjoying yourself! Amazingly, it’s now three years since we opened the ‘new’ shop in Marsden and a new lease has just been signed for the next three.
It’s been hard work to build up and sustain the new business but we’ve definitely found our niche as is proved by the distances customers are travelling to see us. It’s very humbling to have folk turn up who’ve been driving for three or four hours but with the appointment booking system in full operation we can prepare for those visits to make sure no-ones time is wasted. Most people’s reaction seems one of initial shock at the small size of our village and premises quickly followed by the realisation that they’ve never experienced such expertise or attention in a retail environment before. Size isn’t everything!
We’ve worked and studied very hard to build this level of expertise over the years. The evolution of our fitting and appraisal methods began back at the old place in Oldham as we were getting to grips with the fact that the days of shops like ours were numbered. The internet and the outdoor warehouses have taken the majority of market share in an ever increasingly cut throat industry. When I first dabbled in outdoor retail many years ago, the atmosphere was expert and friendly. Most UK shops were independent and run by enthusiasts who valued lifestyle above profits. Today, an ever increasing number of stores are run by business magnates with little interest in sport or the customer. Their shareholders exert pressure on the management teams to perform and employees are disposable and thus not valued or nurtured.
I realised long ago that I wasn’t going to make much of a living out of retail. Therefore, if I was going to work in it five or six days a week at least I’d have to be happy doing it. Luckily, having previous careers meant that financial pressure wasn’t quite as great as it could have been. Even so, it’s taken time to bounce back from the debacle of Oldham town centre’s Metrolink development and every spare penny from the last three years in Marsden has gone into paying off the debts we incurred during the last year there.
Anyway, no point dwelling on the past – if change is happening all around you have to change too and in a roundabout way, it’s all been for the best. We now have a respected facility here in Marsden which bridges an interesting gap between lifestyle and healthcare. One of my ambitions in coming here was to eventually open a foot health clinic within the shop – that was realised back in March with the assistance of podiatrist Matt Butters and put the icing on the shop cake!
We discovered long ago that we’re only going to be able to help those that want to help themselves. Despite only charging recommended retail prices and offering free foot health appraisals during every fitting, we’re continually amazed by the number of people who neglect their well being for the sake of saving a few quid on the internet! Although we don’t welcome tyre kickers and hagglers, we always try to educate them as many people we eventually see have issues that could so easily have been prevented way back down the line.
Happily for us, although things will always be tight here, there seem to be enough discerning folk out there who value their sport and health for us to survive and continue evolving. It’s a fact though that if myself, Charlotte and Marcus weren’t passionate about what we do and value job satisfaction over money, there’d be no Mountainfeet. That I can promise you…
To that end, I’d like to thank hugely those that have hung with us over the years – we wouldn’t have survived without you. That thanks also extends to the ever growing tally of new customers who have found us – usually by recommendation from friends or via our informative website.
There were several figures within the outdoor retail industry who told me a footwear only outdoor shop couldn’t survive. And in most circumstances I’d agree. But we’ve proved that with a certain philosophy, a tactical relocation and the right blend of hard graft and mindless optimism, anything’s possible!
So all I’d say now is that we’re here in Marsden, hopefully to stay, and we’d welcome the chance to help you and your feet!
Here’s to the next three years…