One of the first things John Pease notices when he meets a person is what they are wearing on their feet.
It’s a habit he holds from a lifelong involvement with footwear.
This week the National Footwear Retailers Associationinducted Mr Pease into its hall of fame for his significant impact to the industry.
At 87-years-old, Mr Pease has spent over 70 years working full time as a shoe retailer, and the first17 years of his life running deliveries, cleaning the shop and being around AH Pease Shoe Store.
“I remember when our shipments came on horse and cart,” Mr Pease said.
While things may have changed in the industry, AH Pease Shoe Store has remaineda mainstay in the community and Mr Pease a pillarof the business community.
A clock which can be seen in a photograph taken in the store in the late 1950s still ticks along today as staff bustle aboutfitting shoes.
Mr Pease’s father Aldred-Henry started the store in 1925 with money borrowed from his seamstress sister.
The family business grew from strength to strengthand 91 years later still has branches in Burnie, Ulverstone and Devonport.
Mr Pease said when he first started working most shoes were made in Melbourne or imported from Europe..
In Gough Whitlam’s time as Prime Ministertrade tariffs were reduced andthe Australian manufacture of shoes dropped from holding 80per cent of the market to just 5 per cent, Mr Pease said.
Despite the shoe manufacturing industry in Australia dyingand cheaper shoes comingfrom Asia, retailing was still a profitable business and has remained so, Mr Pease said.
A community man: Margaret and John Pease in 1984. At the time Mr Pease was President Elect of the Burnie Rotary Club.
Whilecheaper shoesare available at bigger stores, Mr Pease believes the reason they still sell shoes is quality.
Sales with a smile: John Pease said his 70 years as a shoe retailer and his involvement in the community were driven by an interest for Burnie. Picture: Cordell Richardson.
“Those shoes fall apart in months.We sell quality not quantity,” he said.
Overthe last 40 years the leather upper and leather sole shoes have taken a backseat tosynthetic made pairs.
However, Mr Pease saidanunwelcome by-product of synthetic shoes issmelliness after some use.
“Older shoes didn’t smell, but now the perspiration gets into the cushioning,” he said.
While some may swear on home remedies to deal with smelly feet, Mr Pease believes there is no substitute for keeping your feet clean and changing your socks regularly.
With few mainstays in the fashion world, bar the Dunlop Volley, Mr Pease he has seenstyles come and go in 30 year cycles.
“Platforms are back in. We saw them in the 60s and then in the 90s again,” he said.
Having shod up to four generations of some families, Mr Pease said that feet sizes have generally gotten larger over time.
“We used to stock men’s shoes down to sizefour and we rarely sold above size 11. Now we stock from seven to 16,” he said.
Mr Pease said he hasnever found a reason to retire andstill heads to work most days,even doing the odd shoe fittingdespite being a bit stiffer in the knees.
“I enjoy the people. I have good staff who look after me” he said.
“There is a 90-year-old [retailer] in Melbourne working so it must be something about the industry.
No stranger to a ladder,heading up to fetch a high pair of shoes will instantly get Mr Pease roused on by a staff member.
Mr Pease will take a break this year to visithis eldest son Michael in Burma.
A father of five, Mr Pease’s youngest son David now manages the three stores.
While his impact on generations of shoe wearers through the care for Coaster’s feet is undeniable, Mr Pease’s commitment to the town and community is what he takes most pride in.
He has served as the President of the Burnie Chamber of Commerce and Industry, President of the Marine Board, President of Burnie Rotary Cuband has been heavily involved in thePCYC.
“I always thought if you make a living out of a community you should give back tothe community,” he said.
Half a century in the trade: John’s son Bruce, his wife Margaret, his daughter Jan and his youngest son David celebrate in 1997.
Putting the boot in: As a salesman Mr Pease said there are no tricks, just honesty and service. Mr Pease pictured in 1984.
A family affair: John Pease, Reg Wilson, Gwyn R, Dollen Cullen, Janet Pease, Ray Pease, Cyril White and Alfred Henry Pease. in the late 1950s.
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