169 Brockley Road - what's in store?

The shop on the corner of Brockley Road and Cranfield Road, formerly an ill-fated therapy centre and junk shop (not at the same time), is shortly to reopen in a new guise as a children's shoe shop.

If you don't want kids shoes with flashing lights in the soles, your options in this part of London are severely limited, so this is a really interesting venture, which, by offering a specialist service, could draw customers from a wide catchment area.

We spoke to Helen, one of the new owners about their venture, which, like the rebirth of Toads Mouth, shows new levels of ambition for this stretch of Brockley's high street:

What will the shop be like?

Fitted shoes will be our main focus but we'll also be selling accessories from hats to hair clips, as well as a selection of toys and other children's things. Our aim is to create a space where children want to come as well as their parents and to make the whole shoe buying process a little easier for everyone. We'll be selling a full range of shoes from first walkers to school shoes and from a range of brands.

We may not get it right at first but our aim is to help everyone that comes in through the door to get the right pair of shoes if they need them, even if that means helping them to source from elsewhere.

We’ll be offering a loyalty scheme, an additional ‘by appointment’ service and most importantly, we’ll be making sure children enjoy the experience because let’s face it, if they like coming, life is happier for us all.

When do you hope to be ready open?

We're aiming for mid-May opening.

Why this location?

My business partner Alex and I both live in Brockley and have, like Brockley Central, seen the influx of young families into the area. We are one of those families ourselves. We’ve always thought there was a need for a children’s shop and when 169 Brockley Road came up, we knew it was almost too good to be true. It’s the perfect spot and is a building that was in dire need of a little TLC.

Is this your first business? 

This is our first venture together and will hopefully draw well on our backgrounds in advertising and design.  Most importantly, we’re parents ourselves and understand the nightmare that is the shoe shopping expedition. Our aim is to take the pain out of the process and we have a few tricks up our sleeves.

What changes are you making to the shop's layout? 

We love this shop. It is an amazing space with the most incredible windows. We’re on the ground floor and are really just giving it a new lease of life rather than changing much at all. The main area was divided into two spaces before which we have opened back up. Happily there is plenty of room for our stock and a giant wooden tepee, which we hope will keep the kids amused! There are some nostalgic touches for the parents too.

What types and brands of shoes will you stock?

We’re stocking first walking shoes to school shoes and everything in-between. Brands include Start-rite, Ricosta, Geox, Victoria Plimsoll, Crocs, Petasil, Bobux, Bo-bell, Biomechanics, Agatha, Garvalin and hopefully the list will keep growing.

Are there any other shops you consider an inspiration?

There are lots of amazing shops that get the shoe bit right in terms of range and professional fit. This should be a given of any independent shoe shop. But, in our experience as customers and in our research for our own shop, not many people do some of the other bits that well.

We have been hugely inspired by all of Brockley's entrepreneurs who have had the spirit and gumption to make things happen. It was Toby and the birth of Brockley Market that gave us the final nudge to take the leap.

What will your opening hours be?

Initially we’ll be open 10am until 5pm every day except Wednesdays and Sundays. We are open on those days for appointments though so if people call ahead then we are happy to open just for them. We hope this is useful particularly for those with large families who want the shop all to themselves. We’ll also be holding story time and sing-a-long sessions which we’ll publish times for once we are up and running.