‘Cobblers To You’… so you could take this two ways, but for Andrew and Darren it’s the start of a new service to one of Chesterfield’s best loved independent retailers and it’s their reaction to COVID-19 and the impact it’s having on their business!
Ingman’s cobblers (that’s shoe repairers to those too young to know) and gentlemen’s outfitters are on Burlington Street and I love the way Andy, Darren (pictured below) and the team approach stuff. When they encounter a problem, they don’t back away but meet it toe to toe, figuring out a way to fix things.
“It’s all too easy to sit back and hope things get better,” says Andy, “but that’s not the way to survive. Individually, and as a business we need to thrive, many people are staying in their homes due to the restrictions, but with the correct PPE, procedures and careful interactions we are relatively safe to move around and we get a buzz from the one-to-one interaction, so we’re bringing our services to you.”
“Many people are working from home, some indefinitely, these are busy people who aren’t visiting the town centre at lunch anymore. They are stuck to their home office, most of the time not leaving the house for lunch, when previously they’d have walked out of the office to go buy a sandwich and browse the local shops.”
So, Cobblers To You, born out of COVID, brings shoe repairing and sales direct to your door! Throughout lockdown, Andy has been working alone repairing shoes for customers across the country by introducing a postal service. He’s been doing a lot on social media and the web to tell people about the quality repairs available from his business and news is spreading.
“Shoe repairs are coming from every corner of the country, but some repairs were fairly local, so I’d jump in the car and go fetch them. This has developed into a localised service for shoe repairs and I’m also offering shoe fitting and measuring, catalogues or products and a mobile shop with styles to try. The styles I bring are based on a discussion beforehand with the customer,” explains Andy.
Andy adds, "We are the first to offer this service officially, independent businesses need to have this pioneering spirit".
The service is right for the moment, an extension of what they do now, face-to-face from the shop, but delivered as a mobile service.
Kids school shoes need a fix? Andy can pick them up Friday after school, repair them over the weekend and have them back to you Sunday night ready for school on Monday!
It’s sad that so many people are staying away from the town centre, it needs people to visit to stay vibrant, and when we do go into Chesterfield, we want quality services which is what Ingman’s do best. Whilst I was there, a customer called in to pick up a purse they had taken to be repaired. It needed a little more time to finish, so rather than asking the customer to call back, Andy took the address and promised to pop it round on his way home. Now that is customer service!
Andy is clearly excited to be bringing this bespoke service to Chesterfield. Look out for the ‘Cobblers To You’ branding on the van and be sure to give him a wave. The van enables Andy to offer a collect and return service for your repairs, a mobile shop with shoes to try in the comfort of your home, and he will be calling into local businesses to set up pop-up shops to spread the news of the services available.
“We also have a bespoke handmade Shoeshine chair made by local business, Industrial Revolutions, that can be hired for weddings and we also use for our business pop-ups. We have also added payment plans so people can spread the cost of their purchases,” adds Andy.
Give Ingman’s a call to book a click-and-collect appointment, there’s a dedicated page on the website for it, and don’t forget you can order shoes and clothing online for delivery.
Andy explained how important a shoe repair can be to someone. “We had a chap call about repairing a pair of deck shoes, he explained they were in pretty poor condition, but I said send them in and I’ll have an honest look.
“The shoes were really worn, almost ready for the bin to be honest but so I asked the customer ‘how deep is your love for these shoes?’ and he explained they had a real sentimental value and he’d appreciate whatever I could do. They belonged to his late brother and he just wanted to walk on the beach with him one more time.
“I spent probably 15 hours over the next few weeks restoring these shoes to near original condition, plus added a personal engraving. Once back with the customer, he called me to say how thankful he was," say Andy. Turns out he is a cider maker and sent Andy a batch to say thank you!
It’s service like this that sets Ingman’s apart, and we should be proud to have businesses like this in our town.
Ingmans, 14 to 16 Burlington Street, Chesterfield
T: 01246 200951
Words: Paul Chapman