'Our final chapter' - closure for town centre staple Burrs shoe store
- Credit: Courtesy of Jean Burr
A Letchworth shoe shop, which has been part of the town centre's furniture since 1963, will close its doors for good following a tough lockdown and the lure of the online marketplace.
Burrs opened in Leys Avenue in 1963, becoming the flagship for what became a 10-strong franchise for the family-run business.
Over the years, Burrs' shops in Henlow Camp, Royston, March, Bicester, Bedford, Biggleswade, Hatfield, Hertford and Ware closed one by one.
At the helm of the remaining Letchworth shop is Jean Burr, daughter of Victor Burr who opened the family's first shop in Henlow Camp in 1933.
She told the Comet: "Lockdown, and people shopping online, has had a big impact on business.
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"Lockdown has been the final chapter. At one time, we had 10 shops, with myself and my three brothers running things. They have retired, and I'm the last one."
Burrs downsized in 2019, and Jean has said she's ready close the doors after dedicating her life to the business.
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"It's stressful running your own business, and for health reasons it's the right time," she said.
"We have got some loyal customers who continue to support us through these changing times with more and more people buying online.
"There was a time when we first opened in the 60s when people would queue outside the door. Times have changed, and I've seen lots of changes in Letchworth.
"It's sad for me - I was born into it. I would walk from St Francis' College and go to help out after school, and on Saturdays as well."
When the family had 10 shops to manage, Jean was responsible for staff training and buying stock - and has taken on many different roles as the business owner for many years.
Jean continued: "We have had some very loyal members of staff - one that was with us for 27 years and another for 23 years. We want to thank all the staff and wish them all the best for the future.
"We built our business on giving the best customer service - that was our strength.
"This will be like a new life for me. It's all I have known. Part of me is very sad, I have lots of happy memories with the customers.
"We are sorry to let our loyal customers down, and thank them for their custom over the years."