Bury St Edmunds shop installs shoeshine chair for customers

Jamie Smart, director and sole owner of Smart Step, polishes Emmerson Critchley's shoes as he catches up on the Bury Free Press from the comfort of the shoeshine chair he designed and installed ANL-160512-153435001
Jamie Smart, director and sole owner of Smart Step, polishes Emmerson Critchley's shoes as he catches up on the Bury Free Press from the comfort of the shoeshine chair he designed and installed ANL-160512-153435001
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A Bury St Edmunds cobbler is hoping to revive an old tradition using what is thought to be the town’s first shoeshine stand for many years.

As well as buying shoes, customers visiting Smart Step, in Abbeygate Street, will now be able to put a sparkle in their step by getting their shoes shined.

Emmerson Critchley, a Suffolk-based specialist building firm for period properties, was asked to design and install a traditional shoeshine stand while undertaking a full interior refurbishment of the shop’s first floor.

Jamie Smart, owner of Smart Step said: “I’m delighted with the results of Emmerson’s work – the shoeshine chair is brilliant.

“I wanted to offer it as a service as I think it’s a great tradition to uphold and it will hopefully draw people in to see the beautiful range of traditional shoes we offer too.”

Shoppers can choose from two levels of service, a basic polish which costs £5 and a more in-depth polish and buff for £7.50.

“I am also proud to use it as a means of raising money for charity,” said Mr Smart. “My grandma suffered from Alzheimer’s and so I’m going to donate the proceeds made from one day’s takings per week from the shoeshine chair directly to Alzheimer’s UK.”

As a self-confessed shoe lover, Mr Critchley said the renovation project became a ‘labour of love’ and he is looking forward to getting his shoes polished on a regular basis.

He added: “It has actually combined two great passions of mine – the first is for traditional building techniques and the second, perhaps lesser known, is for beautiful, quality shoes.

“I’ve also really enjoyed the challenge of designing and installing the shoeshine stand.

“I believe it will be Bury’s first shoeshine stand to exist for many years and it’s wonderful to help keep a tradition like that alive – fitting also for my building firm which focuses on preserving the past as well as building the future.”