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Dick Penn, 2008
Penn and Simmons Ltd.

An advert

I have always lived in Rushden and, like most boys of my age, I started work in the shoe trade. I worked for the Tecnic Shoe Company and various other factories in Rushden.

I met John Simmons from Irthlingborough, who likewise had always been in the shoe trade, when he came to live in Rushden and became my neighbour, probably in the early 1970’s.

We were both in a position to purchase shoes from various factories and we started to sell shoes on markets on Saturdays and Sundays. After a short time we decided to sell shoes on the markets on Wednesdays and Fridays, after giving up our jobs in the factories. At this stage we began to have ranges of shoes made and we rented part of R. Putnam's warehouse in Gravely Street, Rushden, which we eventually purchased.

We then decided to sell men's shoes on a Cash and Carry basis through contacts we had made during our travels and advertising in Shoe Magazines. We purchased shoes from Sanders and Sanders, Jacques and Clark, Alfred Sargents, R. Tarry, W.J.Brookes of Earls Barton, R. Griggs Ltd., G. Cox of Wellingborough and N.P.S. of Wollaston. In addition, we imported training shoes from Taiwan and footwear from India, China and Poland.

By the 1980's we were having a regular allocation of Doc Martens from R. Griggs of about 600 pairs a month and this increased to between 2000 and 3000 a month as demand from America and Australia as well as Europe increased.

We exported a considerable amount of shoes, particularly Doc Martens, to America and Australia and although we were extremely busy and found our work very rewarding. Apart from John and myself, we only ever had 4 other people working for us.

Unfortunately, amongst other reasons, due to ill health on both our parts, we retired and sold the warehouse in approximately 1997. We sold the warehouse to another Company selling footwear, who eventually sold the site for building.

John died in 2000 which was a great loss as he was a super Partner and friend.

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