A RETAIL institution in South Tyneside, which has kept generations of borough dancers suited and booted, is to close after more than half a century.
Hall Brothers, the cobblers and dancewear specialists in Laygate, South Shields, will cease trading on Saturday, March 28.
It’s bound to be a poignant day for owner Robert Hall, 67.
Mr Hall first started working in the shop, in Dacre Street, at the age of just 14 when it was run by his late father Robert.
Among his duties was to deliver shoes on his bicycle.
He started full-time when he was 17 and took over the running of the business in 1987.
Over the years he has seen the premises develop and adapt in order to survive.
It has always been a family firm since it was established back in 1953.
The young Robert worked alongside his mum Ruby, who looked after the leather goods and handbags side of the business.
And Mr Hall’s own daughters, Andrea and Suzanne, often helped out after school.
The business has continued to repair shoes but has broadened in the last 30 years to provide dancing shoes, leotards and costumes for the borough’s burgeoning dancing community.
Now Mr Hall, of Harton House Road, South Shields, is selling off the remaining stock and looking forward to some “chill time” with his wife Jennifer, while pursuing his love of photography and bird watching.
He said: “The bottom line is, I’m tired. I just don’t have the enthusiasm I had 10 or 15 years ago.
“Let’s face it, you don’t know how long you’ve got left on the planet and I want to make the most of it.”
He added: “I’ve been doing this for 50 years and had more than 20 years on my own. It’s been great fun seeing kiddies coming in for tap shoes and fittings and realising that we used to fit their grandmothers.
“We’re now into the third generation. It will be sad when I close the door for the final time, but it’s also a new beginning.”
A tenant is being sought for the premises.