Easter Tour: Day 7 (p1) – Conker Shoes

It was another early start and as we left the Best Western we had been staying at the evening before I took one final glance around the room. It struck me that our little family really can destroy a hotel room. In fact Keith Moon would have been proud of the state in which we left that poor room. Anyway we made our escape and travelled the short drive to Totnes. We arrived in the town for 9.30, as reasonable time most would assume. However, for the townsfolk of Totnes this is obviously not the case. We found most of the shops closed, some until 12.00, and with our tight deadlines it meant that we missed much of the fantastic shopping that was available.

We made our way straight to Conker which is located on the High Street. Our first mission was to get Lucan sized up and get his shoes ordered. Conker make all of their shoes bespoke and to your own specifications of style, size and colour/s. For Lucan we chose a pair of classic t-bar shoes with a buckle. We wanted to let Lucan choose his own colour but he insisted on pink. In the end we got him dark blue with red accents and black stitching.

Once the formalities of fitting were over we met Simon, the owner. He bought the business about 7 years ago having learnt his trade with the previous owners. He and his small team operate out of a workshop in the back of the shop, this is where every pair of Conker shoes is produced.

It has to be said that Lucan’s shoes were over £60 and admittedly many would see that as an extravagance for a child whose feet are constantly growing. But if you weigh up that the same shoes can be stretched half a size bigger and then later be resoled a full size larger, what you are really buying is 3 pairs of shoes (and if Lucan get a little brother one day they will most certainly be passed down). As we have said before, when you invest  in quality there is no need to be a part of the disposable culture to which we have recently become accustomed. This is how people used to buy shoes and it feels right to us. Anyway, I will dismount my soap box!

What is remarkable is that Simon said that he makes no profit on the kids shoes and considers them to be a bit of loss-leader. His overheads and strict policy on quality mean that it is impossible for him to make the shoes for any less. It is for this reason that he cannot compete on an wholesale market. This is why his shop, despite selling online, is still his main outlet for his product. What was interesting though was what we saw when we left the shop. We suddenly began looking down at peoples feet as they milled about the town. Every other person was wearing Conker shoes! These guys obviously have a great reputation locally, it is just a shame that they seem to be a well kept secret to the rest of us.

– James




  1. Phil, East Yorkshire says

    It is a shame that you had to stay at an American owned hotel chain instead of using facilities offered by local B & B’s which I am sure would be plentiful in the area and very happy to welcome you. Most quality B&B’s will be offering very local fresh produce for breakfast and home baked welcoming cake on arrival. Does the Best Western offer the same guarantees?
    I fully support your efforts and wish you well in your efforts, but remember it isn’t only manufacturing that needs our support. (Just for clarity, I am self employed and manufacture PTFE belts for industry in East Yorkshire from Lancashire produced fabrics)

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