Kevin Thomas moves stock to the new Thomas Shoes store in
South Dunedin before retiring at the weekend. Photo by
A South Dunedin sole trader, who was always happy to see
down-at-heel customers, is hanging up his shoehorn.
Kevin Thomas started at his family business, Arthur Thomas
Shoes, in 1978. He had worked earlier for the Union Steamship
Co as an office boy.
''We were by the Mayfair Theatre then. We've had three
generations of customers coming through here since then,'' he
recalled in the store yesterday.
The business was started by his grandfather, Arthur Thomas,
and continued by his father, also Arthur Thomas, who moved it
to 145 King Edward St in the mid-1960s.
''The history of the place is a bit vague. We're pretty sure
the shop started in June 1921,'' Mr Thomas (71) said.
''It's a different world to back then. South Dunedin has
changed, too. Thursday shopping was the boom days, really.
It's more of a service centre than a retail centre here
The shoe business had also changed, he said.
''When I started, it was all New Zealand brands; like
McKinlays and Doc Martens, which were made in Dunedin under
''It just sort of evolves and you have to change what you
stock. Everything has its day, at some stage.
''The Clark's Nomads were probably the shoe that lasted the
longest. They lasted nine years.
''But once the law changed and they allowed imports in, the
New Zealand companies disappeared one after the other,'' he
''I think the public is probably more demanding now and
there's a lot more variety. The technology's changed quite a
bit, too. It's quite rare to find a leather-soled shoe these
Mr Thomas and his brother, David (60), have been running the
family business together since the mid-1980s.
''We've always covered each other. David likes the purchasing
and selling side and I like the numbers,'' he said.
''It's been a good business, but I doubt I'd get into retail
if I was starting over again. I'd probably choose something
else, the way things are now.''
The brothers sold the building last year and Thomas Shoes
will stroll across the road into the former-Wolfenden and
Russell building this weekend.
Mr Thomas officially retires at 1pm tomorrow and then he and
his wife, Bronwyn, have a month-long holiday to Austria,
Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Montenegro and Italy planned.
''I'm looking forward to the next few months. I'm not a
golfer, or a fisherman, or a bowler, but I'll still have
plenty to do.''
David, meanwhile, will be opening up the new Thomas Shoes
store at 9am on Tuesday.