New Accessions: Foot Fashions Ledgers (1937-1957)

This accession contains nine business ledgers with accounts of Foot Fashions.

   

Foot Fashions, situated at 141 Queen Street (in the T&G Insurance building) sold women’s shoes. The store was a few doors away from Mathers Shoe Store, owned by Bill Mathers. This was the first in the Mathers chain, later created by Bill’s son Bob Mathers. Bill Mathers and Ernest Noad were business rivals, but also very good friends.

Pedestrians crossing the intersection of Albert and Queen Streets, in front of the T & G Building

Foot Fashions had a display window on Queen Street, well positioned near the safety zone where commuters waited for trams heading south. Inside the store were two benches, placed back to back, for customers to try shoes, and shelves of show boxes from floor to ceiling. Staff used ladders to take down the stock at the top of the walls. Two large pedestal fans blew all day in the heat of summer to keep the temperature comfortable for staff and customers. Foot Fashions employed two female staff, often unmarried women.

At the back of the store was a small office where Ernest Noad managed staff, met trade representatives, ordered stock, kept the accounts, organised staff pay and banking. The business was open five days a week from 8:30 am to 4.40 pm and on Saturday mornings from 8.30 to 11.30. The store had no cash register, but a cash drawer which had a number of levers under it. A certain combination of levers had to be pulled with the fingers, each by exactly the right amount for that lever, for the drawer to open. All receipts were handwritten and purchases were wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. All shoe boxes were marked with the cost price in a secret code, as well as the retail price in the currency of the day–pounds, shillings and pence. At one time the store acquired an X-ray machine, so that customers could see if a pair of shoes was fitting correctly. This did not last long as the X-ray dosage could not be controlled.

The busiest times of the day were over lunch hours and after 3.30 pm, after school. On the basis of his conversations with customers, Ernest Noad designed shoes he thought would sell, and had shoes made to measure for difficult feet. These were manufactured for him at Fulcher’s Boot and Shoe Factory on the corner of Wellington Rd and Nile St in Woolloongabba. A descendant of the Fulcher family now has a shoe shop in the Westfield Shopping Centre at Chermside.

The Noad family often used their store as a base. From the offices higher in the building they would watch parades in Queen Street, including the parades at the end of Word War Two. On Saturday mornings the children would go to the city to take music lessons, go skating at the Blue Moon rink across the Victoria Bridge and, when they were teenagers, take dancing lessons in the O’Connor Boat House on the river bank.

Foot Fashions closed when Ernest Noad retired in 1957.

Veronika Farley – Librarian/Archivist, Queensland Memory