Family shoe firm’s new step forward

Staff at Padders Footwear, Kettering, prepare the new children's shoe section.
Staff at Padders Footwear, Kettering, prepare the new children's shoe section.

A family shoe business is expanding with a dedicated children’s shop complete with toys to help take the stress out of fittings.

Padders, which started in Rothwell in 1914, opened a new children’s shoe shop at its site on Kettering Venture Park on Saturday.

Owner Kate Rowe, whose great-grandfather founded the company, said: “We have a play area with toys, a television and a Playstation.

“We are trying to give a relaxed and happy atmosphere in which people can shop for kids’ shoes.”

The firm, which has had a factory and an adult shoe shop on the site for about eight years, has taken on a new manager to run the store and two young part-time staff.

Most staff will operate between the two stores.

The shop, which is about the size of a badminton court, sells shoes suitable for babies up to teenagers.

It stocks a number of different big name brands.

Padders is a member of the Society of Shoe Fitters and the majority of staff have qualifications in show fitting.

The staff have had a chance to practice when they visited the Queen of Hearts nursery in Rockingham Road, Kettering, last week.

They measured the children’s feet and took shoe fittings, but also helped them make shoe paintings, some of which now hang in the shop.

Mrs Rowe, 49, of Woodford, said: “It’s just for us to really experience a group of children before we open and get into the system of measuring and helping them try shoes on.

“We had a whale of a time.”

There is also a cafe on site so shoppers can take the weight off their feet while enjoying a cuppa.

Mrs Rowe said: “We felt there was a demand for a retail children’s shop in Kettering.

“It is very limited for choice considering its size.

“We felt we were in a good position to move forward.

“We wanted to expand but we wanted to make the right choice.”