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Family business that's split in two looks to move next year

By Shepton Mallet Journal  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

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SHEPTON Cobbler, High Street, is this week's Shop of the Week.

The family-run business is split into two halves: the shoe repair, key cutting and engraving shop, and a haberdashery.

Jack and Marie Alford run the shop with their son, Mike, who said: "My parents first moved into the town 22 years ago. They were first in Commercial Road and grew the business and moved up to the High Street to get a bigger shop.

"My mother, Marie, wanted to start the haberdashery so it's a bit of a mix and match but we've been living and trading for about eight years up here. It's great, and we're looking to move next year – still in Shepton.

"Jack had been doing it 20 years prior to this. He used to be in a fish and chip shop but had enough and decided to work for Mister Minit and then got the nice little shop and then decided to move up here. I own the cobbler's but I'm the apprentice to continue the family business.

"It wasn't always my path. I used to be in hotels but with the recession hitting, hotel work became very hard, they wanted more for less. My parents said to stop working 90 hour weeks and I took up the option and it's been a learning curve but I love the town and the people in it."

Shepton Mallet Shop of the Week aims to promote independent trading in the town.

Mike said: "Independent trading is very important for small market towns – to give more choice. We have Tesco and they do what it says on the tin but it's nice to have a bit of variety and personal service. Independent shops have more passion.

"We're looking to move in March. The shoe repairing will stay where it is but the haberdashery will move down the road. For craft there has been a big revival and we're hoping to expand. The town's going to get an extra shop and that's only from the support of locals using us."

Alan Stone, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, said: "Shepton Cobbler is without doubt one of the finest shops in Shepton and the Alford family are amongst our most charismatic shop keepers.

"From the early days as a cobbler both the size of the shop and the range of goods has just continued to grow. You can get all sorts of things, one of my regular purchases is Velcro hooks to stick photographs to display boards, particularly at the Mid Somerset Show. Over the years it has also often satisfied my wife's urge for creative craft presents at Christmas and birthdays.

"It is the atmosphere in the shop that I like most. There is usually a loose queue of people milling around who all want to see something totally different and are served, roughly in turn, in a really cheerful manner.

"Customers find themselves talking to each other in a most natural way. This is shopping as it should be."

Who would you like to see as the next Shop of the Week? Email shepton@midsomnews.co.uk.

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