Simpson Shoes closes its doors in Lambton after three generations and more than 90 years

simpson shoes closes its doors in lambton after three generations and more than 90 years

Simpson Shoes was established in Newcastle's Lambton more than 90 years ago.  (ABC Newcastle: Keely Johnson)

In 1931, when Craig Simpson's grandfather opened his boot-making business in suburban Newcastle, he may not have expected it to continue for almost a century.

Simpson Shoes in Lambton closed its doors for the last time earlier this month, ending a legacy that spanned more than 90 years and three generations.

Its final owner, Craig, said sadly he doesn't see a future in the shoe business anymore as online shopping and the creation of large shopping centres have "changed" the retail sector.

Mr Simpson has fond memories of helping out his father and grandfather in the shop as a teenager.

He would watch his grandfather Stephen tinker for hours in the back of the shop repairing and making shoes for his customers.

"You don't see it done like that anymore," Mr Simpson said.

His grandfather was a bootmaker, a trade that is hard to come by these days.

Mr Simpson said he loved to watch his grandfather create shoes from scratch, many of which ended up on his own feet.

"He never wore a pair of shoes he didn't make," he said.

Simpson Shoes began in 1931 after Stephen completed his boot-making apprenticeship.

"He rented out a little shed in the backyard of the Northumberland Hotel, the pub around the corner from where the shop is now 93 years later," Mr Simpson said.

Stephen bought and moved to the shopfront at 100 Elder Street in April 1934, where it remained until its recent closure.

A family business 

Stephen Simpson worked in the shop repairing shoes for more than 70 years, until he was in his late 80s.

His son, Kevin Simpson, also followed in his footsteps.

"Dad also did his trade as a shoe repairer," Mr Simpson said.

"He could see the sale of new shoes was worth getting into.

"So he ran the shop selling new [mass-produced] shoes, and Pop kept doing the repairs."

Mr Simpson was about 16 years of age when he started working part-time at the shop and took over the business in his early 30s.

Now, after 47 years working at the shop, he has decided to retire.

"It is sad, but it's a personal decision. It's just time to get out and enjoy doing other things," he said.

Mr Simpson said independently-owned shoe shops have become a rarity.

"Twenty years ago there used to be a shoe store in nearly every suburb in Newcastle," he said.

"There's very few of us left now."

In a region with more than 500,000 residents, just four independently-owned shoe shops remain across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

Impact of online shopping 

Mr Simpson said the biggest impact on the business was the creation of online shopping.

"We would have people come in and try on a shoe, just to find the right size, and leave," he said.

"You would know they were off to buy it online and save, say, $20.

"I know everyone is paying more for things at the moment and they want to save where they can … but people don't realise how that extra money could help a small business."

The onset of large shopping centres also impacted the business.

"The big, major shopping malls have sprouted up all over the city and all the chain stores are, of course, in those centres," he said.

"People go there because they can get everything they want all in the same place."

Mr Simpson said chain stores often could not offer the same service as experienced family businesses could.

"When you've seen how shoes are made and repaired you know the ins and outs of shoes and footwear. So you know exactly how they fit," he said.

"You can pass that experience on to the customers when you're selling the product."

One customer, Elaine, had shopped at the store across the three generations of ownership.

Mr Simpson recalls serving older customers from their cars if they couldn't come into the shop.

"We were happy to do that. That is the service you just can't get at chain stores," he said.

"And that's what I've loved — helping people and helping them fix their foot problems."


15 minutes ago

Can some medications impact your ability to handle extreme heat? What to know

17 minutes ago

Brittney Griner Makes Strong Statement After WNBA Announcement

17 minutes ago

ANC-DA marriage will fold by December: Meshoe

17 minutes ago

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship expert picks and predictions with our PGA Pro’s best bets for the 2024 golf tournament

17 minutes ago

Post office firearms ban faces constitutional challenge

17 minutes ago

‘Super exploitation’ as 15,000 young people legally paid less than minimum wage, Dáil hears

17 minutes ago

Leeds Rhinos interim coaching structure confirmed after Rohan Smith exit

17 minutes ago

Michael Cohen's Former Lawyer Says Donald Trump Should Be Pardoned

17 minutes ago

Clint Eastwood, 94, celebrates wedding of pregnant daughter Morgan, 27, to Tanner Koopmans in glamorous ceremony at his Carmel-by-the-Sea ranch

17 minutes ago

Ascot's creative director reveals how to: Win the style stakes in summer suiting

19 minutes ago

The greatest players to play at Rickwood Field included the Say Hey Kid, Hammer, Mr. Cub

21 minutes ago

Tormenta Tropical Alberto: Primer tormenta nombrada de la temporada de huracanes 2024

21 minutes ago

Los Angeles Sparks rookie Cameron Brink tears ACL in knee

21 minutes ago

US soldier convicted of theft in Russia and sentenced to years in prison

23 minutes ago

Woman on Cruise Attends Event—Quickly Realizes Fiance Read Itinerary Wrong

23 minutes ago

I’m not brainy, but my 72 years give me an edge over younger people

23 minutes ago

Can Rangers find their new go-to forward?

23 minutes ago

Emerging markets in 'wait for Fed' mode as US central bank scales back interest rate cuts

23 minutes ago

Turkey vs Portugal: Euro 2024 prediction, kick-off time, TV, live stream, team news, h2h results, odds

23 minutes ago

Amazon shoppers rave about £19 hair growth serum that 'works in a week'

23 minutes ago

Irish woman fired by Israeli firm for 'terrorist state' comment says she feels 'blacklisted'

25 minutes ago

Missy Elliott feels 'blessed' to be alive and well

27 minutes ago

Jay Slater: Everything we know about the Briton missing in Tenerife

27 minutes ago

Russian state news agency says President Putin arrives in Vietnam for visit to strengthen ties with a longtime partner

29 minutes ago

Kristen Bell And Christian Campbell Are Creating A Cannabis “Community” On Hollywood Blvd With ‘Reefer Madness: The Musical’s 25th Anniversary Revival

29 minutes ago

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden expected to start for England against Denmark despite criticism of midfield experiment and Man City star's performance against Serbia

29 minutes ago

Network Rail denies using AI cameras to detect passengers’ emotions

30 minutes ago

Celine Dion left in tears as she shares the impact Stiff Person Syndrome has on her singing voice

30 minutes ago

Taylor Swift rewrites song to include local Welsh slang becoming fans' Princess of Wales

30 minutes ago

Bank of America tells Detroit’s Big 3 they can’t make money in China and should just leave the hypercompetitive car market ‘as soon as they possibly can’

30 minutes ago

5 versions of Avios: When to use Aer Lingus, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Qatar Airways

30 minutes ago

Titans interested in UFL DE Breeland Speaks, per report

30 minutes ago

Antonio Rudiger can't hide his anger over Kai Havertz mistake during Germany win

30 minutes ago

BBC presenter Nick Owen breaks down in tears live on air as he gives cancer update

30 minutes ago

Super Mario-themed cleats of Albania player Jasir Asani add cartoon color to Euro 2024 game

30 minutes ago

Do Las Vegas Raiders have one of the NFL's worst running back rooms?

30 minutes ago

T.J. Watt says he’s ‘living in the moment’ regarding NFL future

30 minutes ago

Some NFL owners discussing potential QB salary cap in wake of escalating market, per report

30 minutes ago

“I was a better offensive player” - Bill Russell never believed that he was merely a defensive stalwart

30 minutes ago

Chelsea flop snubbed by Premier League title winners