Welcome to our second feature on some of the UK's leading independent shoe retailers. This week it is the turn of Robert Carder Shoes.
Long-standing stockists of Josef Seibel footwear, Robert Carder Shoes, has two popular footwear shops in Godalming in Surrey and East Dulwich, London. Robert and his wife Caroline have both been selling and fitting shoes for 40 years and, along with their son Matt who also works in the business, pride themselves on being family footwear specialists.
They have now re-opened the shops following lockdown, but even while closed, Robert and Caroline have been answering all enquiries and delivering shoes to their customers wherever possible.
There have been changes to the shops to accommodate the new Covid-19 restrictions, some furniture has been removed from the company’s smaller Godalming store and new signage installed to ensure social distancing. Robert has also created an innovative Perspex screened fitting trolley, so that if people do want their feet measured, they can do behind a protective screen. Robert said “We are still advising our customers to fit their own shoes where possible, with our guidance at distance. However, this isn’t always possible, particularly with children and this is where our fitting screen comes in.
“It has been lovely to welcome back some of our customers over the past couple of weeks. We’ve sold lots of children’s shoes as of course their feet haven’t stopped growing over the past three months! We’ve also been pleased to see some of our regular adult customers, who have enjoyed the chance to come into the shop and buy their shoes, quite often more than one pair. While many people are still fitting their own shoes, after 40 years in the trade we can tell a lot by eye and still offer much of the service that people expect from us.”
To ensure everyone’s safety, it’s not quite ‘business as usual’ and Robert is keen to stress that for them to trade successfully over the coming weeks and months it will need to be a team effort between staff and customers. “We’re feeling our way to discover the best ways of working in this ‘new normal’ to make visiting Robert Carder an enjoyable experience, but with the necessary protection. We’re lucky that we have lots of stock for our customers to purchase and we are asking people to help us by not picking up shoes whilst browsing and to come into the shop with an idea of what you are looking to buy, rather than just to browse or have feet measured. We are able to offer appointments, which may be appropriate for our more vulnerable customers and are fortunate to have an outside area where we can conduct fittings. It’s still early days, but so far, so good and we hope to see more of our local customers soon!”
Until further notice, both Robert Carder Shoes shops will be opening 10am to 4.30pm Tuesday to Friday and 9.30am to 5pm on Saturday, but trading hours may increase.
For the latest information on opening times, please call Godalming on 01483-416543 and Dulwich on 020-8693-5145.