Iconic business moving to CBD

    Bennett's Footwear Repairs is moving shop after more than 60 years in its Tay St, Invercargill, premises. Cobbler Hamish Murie (right) and assistant Jamie Curry will be shifting to new premises in Don St.

    THE reality of a cobbler’s workshop is nothing like children’s stories have led us to believe. There are no elves dressed in red and green, tirelessly tapping small nails into soles of shoes. Well, not in Invercargill business Bennetts Footwear Repairs.

    Besides, owner Hamish Murie’s helper, Jamie Curry, is too tall to be an elf, and will have to be content with being Murie’s right hand man as he has done for the past six years.

    The aged walls of the 60min dust and decades of history. If they could speak, they would possibly tell their own stories of the shop that has been part of Invercargill’s fringe CBD for more than six decades.

    The larger building, in it’s entirety, has hosted many businesses during the decades. But Bennetts has held the fort since 1957.

    Bennett’s Shoe repairs is moving shop after more than 60 years in it’s Tay Street premises. Cobbler, Hamish Murie (r) and Jamie Currie will be shifting shop to new premises in Don Street.

    Valet Drycleaning spent many years operating from the Tay St site, until its operation was bought out by another century old Southland business McCallums Drycleaning.

    The Salvation Army Family Store did a short stint in the small adjacent shop until it outgrew the premises.

    It has only been recently Murie decided to move closer to the Invercargill CBD.

    The move had been on his mind for a long time, but the right opportunity needed to present itself. When another long-time Invercargill business Donald Buckley Photo and Frame, on Don St, decided to call it day after 35 years in business, Murie knew instinctively it was the right move.

    Cobbler shops are rare in Southland, which makes it easy for Bennetts to corner the market on shoe and bag repairs.

    Invercargill had 22 repair shops between the 1960s and 1980s, Murie said.

    He believed it was because everyone walked to destinations more than they did now.

    Murie recalled the early days of working after school for founder Ted Bennett. Shoes were collected by bicycle from surrounding shoe shops.

    As a first-day tenant, Mr Bennett remained at the helm until 1996 when he sold the business to Murie, his former apprentice, who was only 23 years old. During the decades, Bennett mentored seven apprentice cobblers in the dying trade and many young people.

    “He was a good teacher of the trade and life. He mentored.

    “He taught me you have to treat your customers the way they want to be treated and always try to provide a good service to people.”

    Much of the business’ administration was still being done

    Being passionate about his work and great customer service is what motivates him to work his regular 12-hour day.

    “It’s not just a business. It’s a job I like to do.”