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Feet-first launch into business.

Byline: By Nick Whitten

A Tynedale mother has spotted a children's feet-sized gap in the market.

Corbridge mum Sarah Quinn has opened Feet First in St Mary's Chare Courtyard in the centre of Hexham, the only dedicated children's shoe retailer in Tynedale.

The independent store is the brainchild of Sarah, who decided to start her own business after she became tired of endless trips to town in order to keep her own children in shoe leather.

Sarah, originally from Hexham, moved back into the area two years ago with her husband and young family.

After living in Nottingham she noticed there was a huge gap in the market in Hexham for a dedicated shoe store that not only stocked a choice of popular children's brands, but also had an emphasis on providing a quality fitting service.

She said: "With only one other shop in Hexham that stocked children's shoes, I found myself without a lot of choice unless I was prepared to make the 40 mile round trip to Newcastle or the MetroCentre.

"Mothers from my sons' school and our friends had all voiced similar concerns, so my husband and I started to do a bit of research into the sector.

"We found that there are approximately 10,000 children under the age of 14 in the Tynedale area alone and most growing children require a new pair of shoes every eight to 12 weeks.

"There's definitely a market for us in the immediate area and this was the defining factor in taking the plunge."

Feet First offers a dedicated shoe fitting service, ensuring that comfort and the quality of the shoes are the main priority.

Staff have taken training courses with Start Rite Shoes and the Society of Shoe Fitters, which means they can make informed recommendations on the type of footwear that best fits the shape and size of a young person's growing foot.

Sarah was also keen to keep the needs of parents at the forefront when developing the store design, which is situated at street level for ease of access.

Special provision has been made to accommodate prams and pushchairs and a supply of toys are on hand to keep younger shoppers entertained.

Feet First will employ four part-time staff in the newly developed courtyard retail complex in St Mary's Chare.

The listed building has been developed into retail outlets that include a hair salon and other designer boutiques.

The store caters for children from ages 0 to 14 and stocks a range of children's footwear from a range of fashionable brands.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 26, 2006
Words:426
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