Dear mummy, love is in the air…..a girls love of shoes! Now that I’ve started walking you’ve decided that it’s best I get fitted for some ‘proper’ shoes. I know you lurve shoes, they pour out of your wardrobe spilling onto the bedroom floor and I like chewing on them and handling the different textures. It’s about time I’ve got my own.
We head to a little family run business called French & Sons in Southampton, the same place Grandma took you as a child. It was destined that you returned with me to get my first pair of sparky shoes.
W.J. French & Sons Limited in Bedford Place, Southampton has been opened for as long as my Grandma can remember. French & Sons has actually been established since 1803 and has a long history of shoemaking and fitting. One of the oldest shoemaking businesses in the country, it is now over 200 years since Francis French and his wife Martha opened their shoe shop in Kingsland Place, Southampton.
Records show that as early as 1794 the French Family were involved with the making of shoes. It was 1890 when the family moved to 40 Bedford Place and 1964 when they expanded the store to what it is today. Nothing’s change the signage still looks the same and all the wooden paneling.
It was a horrible showery day but the store was inviting and the staff very friendly. They are all family orientated and we felt at home sitting on the comfy leather chairs. Other small people were getting their feet measured, not just length wise but also width wise.
The staff were so gentle with my feet and legs as they put my feet into this contraption with lots of lines and numbers on. Mr French himself greeted us and advised on my measurement I felt honoured to have such attention lavished on little young me. Size 3E…wow!
Mummy and Daddy had a look at the children’s display shoes on the shelves, the others were stacked in boxes piled high on top of each other like books in a library. The staff were very knowledgable on all the makes and brands of the shoes they sold.
My mummy picked some Start-Rite ones in different designs and colours, and I was given the decision to choose as she held one in each hand. I liked playing with the boxes and tissue paper and it was strewn across the floor while store assistants chuckled and clapped.
I started to try them on walking around store gazing at my reflection in the numerous mirrors and looking around at all the pretty display lights. I heard my mummy say to grandma ‘is this what it felt like when I tried my wedding dress on?’ All of you staring at me, unsteady on my feet tottering around the shop floor looking in mirrors.
Finally you agreed with daddy (as he was the one that was torn!) on my beautiful pastel pink patent Mary Jane Start-Rite shoes with little stitched butterfly’s and gem detail. 🙂 I love them and wore them straight out of the box.
Thank you so much for taking me to this amazing store and to Grandma for buying my first pair of ‘proper’ shoes….Oh and yours over 33 years ago.
Love Bella x