In the latest in our series, we chat to Stilios Photiou, owner and manager of The Caterham Cobbler, to discover why cobblers are very much back in vogue again
Tell us a bit about your business…
We are a traditional, independent cobblers and we’ve been here in Caterham for 34 years now. Like many cobblers, in tandem with our core business of shoe-repairing, we are also a key-cutters and locksmiths. Everything is done by hand, with the aid of traditional machinery, and we pride ourselves on the high quality of our service.
What made you decide to set up in Caterham?
I actually live in Kent, but when the opportunity came to take the shop here, I decided to go for it. Obviously, a lot has changed in the town since then, and it’s a period of particular change at the moment with all the building works, but it’s always been a nice, friendly place and that hasn’t changed.
Is there any advice you would have for other business owners in Caterham Valley?
It’s a challenging time at the moment for all high streets across the country, with the ever-present competition from online shopping. So, that makes it extra-important to give people a reason to come into the town. In my case, as well as good and speedy service, I always try to offer an extra-friendly welcome. It’s all of those things, I think, that help to keep people coming back.
Why should someone visit your business for the first time?
It’s an interesting time in the world of shoe-repairing as people are becoming far more environmentally aware. So, once again, people are starting to think much more about repairing their existing items instead of constantly buying cheap replacements. I think everyone would agree that it’s better not to be a throwaway society, but this also requires high-quality goods in the first place that actually last and only require occasional repair. So, this is something that manufacturers need to be thinking about, too.
What would be your top tip for someone visiting Caterham?
There are some great independent places in the town for a coffee. For example, I’m a big fan of Caffe Bambino, just down the road from us. So, my top tip would be to bring your shoes or boots into us and then head over there for a cuppa and a cake.
Describe your typical lunch break to us…
In all honesty, I rarely manage to take a lunchbreak, so just grab a break in-between customers. At that point, I’ll usually have a quick coffee and read the paper.
Finally, tell us your favourite thing about the town…
As well as the beautiful surrounding countryside, there are some great parks in the town, too. In fact, I used to bring my dogs with me here and then enjoy a stroll at lunchtime. So, as well as the friendly atmosphere in the town, you also have a lovely setting as well.
- Sadly, The Caterham Cobbler shut for the final time in 2021.
- Share what you most love about Caterham Valley with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Meet more Caterham Characters…
- Meet Stuart Johnston from home-improvements business, Shard Solutions
- Meet Said Yazici from Caterham Sweet and Savoury Waffles
- Meet Andrew Browne from JJ Browne & Son jewellery
- Meet Abigail Pedrick from Pedrick’s Zero Waste Shop
- Meet Erika Giucastro, team leader at Clarks Shoes
- Meet Paul Smith, director of Fenchurch Insurance Brokers
- Meet the joint owner of Specsavers, Sundip Patel
- Meet Vitaltone Pharmacy and Vitaleyes Opticians’s Shim Patel
- Meet the manager of St Catherine’s Hospice charity shop, Emma Glass
- Meet Bow Butterfly’s Katie Kennedy
- Meet Time Hair & Beauty’s Katherine Casey-Farmer
- Meet Jade Insurance’s Martin Kemp
- Meet Caterham Galleries’ Jodie Green
- Meet Surrey Strength and Performance owner, Daniel Iaciofano
- Meet Helena Fortley bridal boutique’s Sally Brady
- Meet Wingate’s Ben Clarke
- Meet Huntley Cartwright’s Chris Huntley
- Meet Bib & Tucker’s Togs Ali
- Meet The Wedding LookBook’s Ying Shi