Like most grown women, shoe shopping is something I thoroughly enjoy. Actually that is a slight lie, I would enjoy were it not for the fact that I have enormous feet and me trying on shoes is a bit like the ugly sisters trying to get Cinderella’s glass slipper on most of the time – sad but true. However, children think slightly differently about these things, and apparently trying on shoes is not high on their list of priorities – despite the fact that the shoes are paid for by someone else – madness! There is nothing more frustrating than shelling out a load of cash for your children on something they don’t remotely care about.
In the past we’ve often done a “buy cheap buy twice” when it comes to shoes for our two sons, something which I am at pains to avoid doing in the future. So when I was offered the opportunity to review the shoe buying process at local children’s shoe shop Poppy Red I thought it would be a good opportunity to find out what shoe buying could be like.
The shop itself is just a few seconds walk from the main car park in Ilkley, and the first thing that strikes you is the inviting shop front and huge selection of children’s shoes – brands included Geox, Ugg, Lelli Kelly, Birkenstock and many many more. I think the shop at one time did ladies’ shoes but they have now decided to concentrate on children’s shoes – a really good move I think as I don’t think there is anywhere else locally doing the same thing. Word had obviously spread as there were a fair few people in the shop already, but it didn’t take long until we had our turn. I looked longingly at some pink sparkly slippers, but my 7 year old son didn’t seem too keen – so Geox it was.
Jenny, one of the owners, was serving us and instantly “got” my two sons and how to best include them in the buying process. She’s one of those people that children instantly build a rapport with and clearly has a lot of experience with kids. Although my 7 year old son can be a bit difficult and did NOT want to be there initially, she got him excited about some “ninja” looking shoes, and he couldn’t wait to try them on! I was really impressed with her professionalism and obvious knowledge about fitting children’s shoes, it’s something that only comes from having a passion for the service you’re offering, and can’t be replicated in the chain stores in my opinion. Another thing that’s great is that Poppy Red ensure ALL their staff are properly trained in shoe fitting so that every customer has the full experience – and this really shines through. Jenny even somehow managed to persuade my son to not go with the bright green shoes (which were awesome) and he selected some more sedate looking red and black shoes – with flashing lights (standard) which he now won’t take off! Co-owner Jenny says, “I’ve always loved working with children and and what woman doesn’t love shoes? Owning this business with my mum is my dream job! I love being front-facing and seeing our customers on a daily basis, it definitely helps influence our buying decision – sometimes I can even have a customer in mind when we’re looking at new collections.”
There’s also something really satisfying about supporting a local business and ensuring that really good shops like Poppy Red, who are clearly really passionate about what they do, carry on and don’t disappear. Every single shoe I saw in store was of a really high quality and you could just tell that this is the sort of shop that wouldn’t compromise on that. The man in front of me was buying school shoes for his son and I was really taken aback by how, quite frankly, beautiful they were!
A bit more information about the owners and ethos of the shop…
Co-owner Helen says:-
“All the staff are trained shoe fitters and able to advise on the best choice of shoe to fit all shapes and sizes. People often comment that they have been unable to find anything to fit in other shops but we are usually able to help thanks to the wide range of different brands we stock. We are experienced at fitting shoes with orthotic insoles, splints and other footwear inserts. Although my daughter Jenny and I have different roles, we always unite when we’re selecting new stock. What mother and daughter wouldn’t love hours of researching and buying new shoes? It couldn’t be more satisfying if we were buying for ourselves! It’s a real responsibility getting the right mix of quality and style that mums will approve of and kids will really love and we’re very particular about what brands we stock. “
The other thing that was different from the high street chains was the fact that they actually had the shoes that my son wanted in his actual size – this never seems to happen in other shops, and means that children – who don’t want to be there anyway – aren’t left disappointed.
One other thing that Jenny did, was to totally understand that my other son didn’t need new shoes, and instead she offered him some lovely flashing lights to stop him having a full on paddy whack. Nice touch. AND chocolate eggs/sweets never go unwanted at the end of some strenuous shoe trying on.
I really urge you to support this business – great service and top quality shoes. What’s not to like?
Poppy Red also have Ladies’ shoes on their website.
I was offered a £40 gift voucher to enable me to review this store, but all thoughts are my own.