Peter Bullock opened his first shoe repair store in Nottingham (UK) thirty-five years ago and called it after his own name - “Peter’s”. As the time went by, it grew to a shoemaking store. Today, it is quite an iconic store in the heart of Nottingham, offering the highest quality English hand-made bespoke shoes worn by such celebrities as the actress Viki McClure. “It’s endless” – Peter says when I ask him about the client range – it goes from the show business stars to the football stars.
When I came in to the store, I met Peter - a real English gentleman, who, in my opinion, makes other men at least look like gentlemen. The store itself is exceptionally precise, but at the same time – warm and cozy. It’s very British - not too big and every single thing has its’ own duty and purpose. I must mention that it wasn’t the first time as I came into Peter’s store and every time I am there – I always see Petter in his smart dress style – smart trousers, good quality shirt and a nice tie. About the shoes – I’m not even talking – they’re just the best of the best.
On sunny Monday afternoon, I sat down with Peter to talk about his business and shoemaking process. After an interview, I could tell that this man doesn’t just make shoes by his own hands. Everything that he has now and everything what I personally see around him was made by his own hands. I’m sure that’s the reason why this store has a specific aura that makes you want to come back again.
Tell me more about how did you start your business?
I started 35 years ago and I called the shop ‘Peter’s”. Then I opened a chain of stores in a couple more locations. Afterwards, we also got a concession in “House of Frazer”, I was 23 years old at the time. We just went with the flow and as our experience got bigger, the business got bigger as well.
At first, we started in shoe repair and then we grew to shoe making – today we’re just known as English shoemakers.
Where are the stores?
We’ve got a shop in Derbyshire, couple of shops in Yorkshire, and, of course – this store here – in Nottingham. Also, we have other retailers who sell our shoes in many more locations.
What does make good shoes good?
Well... First of all, you need a good last - that’s what you make a shoe on. Then, obviously, you need a good leather. And... A good shoe-maker.
What is a good leather for good shoes?
There are quite a few. However, I would say French calf, box calf are my favourites. Cordovan leather is also nice...
I know that you offer bespoke footwear. Could you tell me more about this process?
Yes, that’s correct. We write down the individual measurements of the customer’s foot. Then we would come up with some different sketches for a design. We would also show some different leathers and a range of colours that the customer could choose from. In the very end, we offer Western Quality shoes, totally made by hand individually just for one customer.
What is the price range for bespoke footwear at your place?
It starts from £200 and the price goes up to £2,000.
You must meet interesting people in your shop. Could you tell me more about them?
We do get some interesting ordinary customers here and also we get some famous customers who come to our shop. Actors, musicians would come and see us, also local bands and world-famous artists that wear our footwear.
Honestly, the list is endless... Because I’ve been running the business for more than thirty years and it would be hard to mention them all.
You did put so much work and effort into this business – I can just feel it from this place’s aura. Have you thought about who would continue your shoemaking tradition after you retire?
Yeah, sometimes I think about it myself. Well... The next generation I’ve trained is going to take this business and will run it after I retire. My daughter would love to take it over someday, but she’s very young at the moment. It certainly is a thing that I keep my eye on.
Do you teach people here who want to learn more about the shoemaking process?
Yes, we do take people to train. Then they leave and work for various different shoemaking masters as well as for me.
Do you take interns? Or do people need to pay for your courses? What is the route if a person wants to come and get some work experience with you?
There’s no set route. If there is a certain availability and someone is interested in shoemaking, we just let them come in and we show them what we know and I, personally, make sure that we show them the best methods in shoemaking.