Long and Bartlett, footwear and general store, 20, Fore Street
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As customers we may feel sad to see shops disappear, without considering what the change means for those running the business. Penny Herrick (nee Bartlett) who had to close Long and Bartlett in 2005 after the shop had been run by her family since 1946, felt she had let her family down, after they had worked so hard.
Her grandmother Ethel Mary Long was born in 1888. After working as a salesgirl at Frisbys shoe shop on Fore Street, she joined her father in establishing a shoe, boot and gaiters business in Bath House, Holyrood Street in 1916. The upstairs of an outhouse was used as the “skin house” where hides, skins, moleskins were stored before being tanned.
In 1946 Ethel bought 20 Fore Street. Ethel was a thrifty businesswoman and lived frugally, coming from a generation who feared having to go to the workhouse. She was a great salesperson - she had a knack of making customers feel compelled to buy. But she also had a generous side giving brides matching bags to the shoes they had bought. The shop also ran a shoe club, a toy club and Christmas club so people could pay weekly to buy goods.
The shop had to diversify from selling footwear to remain competitive, selling sports equipment, knitwear, scarves, toys, and many haberdashery items. However, the increase in internet buying and large retail companies diversifying into selling footwear meant Long and Bartlett was forced to close its doors.