Crosby Shoe Agencies was founded 12 years ago by Andrew Marshall. The company then was put to one side with the success of Strolling 4 Shoes and re instated in 2010 by son Gus Marshall. Below is the story of how the Marshalls got into footwear.
The Marshall legacy in footwear started over 100 years ago when Gus Marshall was but a distant idea in the eyes of 14 year old Arthur Marshall.
In 1879 'Boss Mags' ran two shops in Worcesters infamous Shambles. With daily drives of cattles to one of the streets abattoirs to be processed for the butchers it was the most unlikely place to find Shoe and Clothes shops. Despite this, brothers Arthur and Herbert Marshall split their interests with Herbert working in Mags' Clotheing outlet at one end and Arthur working in the Shoe shop at the other. When Mags' passed away the brothers where given first refusal of the shops. Both took the opportunity with Herbert continueing with the clothes store. For Arthur, Marshalls Shoes was born.
Marshalls 2nd Generation
Marshalls specialised in the cheap end of the trade. Providing the various workmen with their boots at incredibly low prices, Marshalls became the place to buy your value shoes. Arthurs son Arthur (Aka Tom) was introduced to the business and like a horse to water became involved in the trade.
The Second World War
This relationship continued until the Second World War where Tom was called up to National Service. Tom took a role in the Munitions factory before moving to the agricultural side, providing work for Italian POW's. Marshalls continued trading but due to the war began to struggle with the poor trade. During Tom's time he met wife to be Jean. A member of the Land Army, they were soon wed and like most people who become a Marshall was quickly introduced to the shoe trade.
Post war Tom and Jean inherited a very broken business, but with determination and a bit of hard work, they began to reinvent Marshalls Shoes. With the help of Linries of Bristol and Orrs of Birmingham who pumped Marshalls full of shoes, the focus from cheap and nasty work boots soon switched to good quality shoes.
Soon Marshalls of Worcester transformed into a thriving shoe shop and at this expanded to its second outlet. Bromsgrove. Trade continued well but after a trip to visit friends in Symonds Yat, Tom and Jean wanted to relocate. Soon after Worcesters lease came up and they sold Bromsgrove, Marshalls upped sticks and moved to a small unit on Monnow Street in Monmouth, where it became very apparent that this narrow unit just wouldn't surfice. When the unit next door came available it was a no brainer to keep the narrow shop as a Gents shop and move the rest of the business into what would be the Marshall flagship shop.
The 3rd Generation
If you were to come into Marshalls on a saturday morning you would be served by Tom and Jeans 11year old son, Andrew. Andrew saw working in the shop and good way to earn 6pence an hour at a weekend until a well to-do customer came in one day and requested to be served by "the knowledgable young man". From this day forward Andrew was hooked!
The decison for Andrew to work in the shops was subject to him having a years experience working for different people in different areas of the trade. This led him to work in Bournemouth, Bond Street in London and various other aspects covering production and design. With a years full of knowledge Andrew returned home and ran the latest branch of Marshall's, Ledbury.
A few years down the line and retirement looming for Tom and Jean they moved out of Monmouth and sold Ledbury to open a shop in Ross-On-Wye. This became the home for Andrew as he took full control of Marshalls. Andrew continued running the Ross-On-Wye shop with wife Sue until he was offered the opportunity to manage Gloucesters shoe empire, Shop for Shoes. After many years Marshalls shoes ended its reign but there was much more to come!
The Next Step....
Andrew soon moved his way up through Shop for Shoes and became the buyer where he began meeting and making new contacts within the trade. With a family now in toe, Andrew made some big decisions to change sides completely and enter the world of a sales rep. Having proved his worth in retail, Andrew became the North of England and Scotland Rep for Rombah Wallace....living in Herefordshire. A move was inevitable, finishing an appointment in Wick and explaining to Sue and kids "I'm leaving now, I'll be with you in 9 hours" was the icing on the cake.
So in the summer of 1997, the Marshall family moved north to Cumbria. After many years with Rombah Wallace, Andrew set up Crosby Shoe Agencies. An Agency that represented Wolky, Country Jacks, Fly Flot and German giant DRS (Now sister company of Rieker). This was the beginning of Gus's exposure to the trade, at the age of 10 I found myself putting orders into h Dads laptop and on one occasion in Fenwicks helping dad sell. At 44 and sick of the sight of the M6, Andrew and Sue took stroll around Keswick on New Years day 2004, where a small unit was available to rent. Soon after Strolling 4 Shoes was born and the beginning of Andrew and Sue's next challenge.
Strolling 4 Shoes
Within 4 years Strolling 4 Shoes had gone from being a little shoe shop in Keswick with 1 full time member of staff to 5 shops with 25 staff, 4 of which were myself, Will, Phil and Fraser. Will, Phil and Fraser did not show much interest in the trade. I on the other hand, like Arthur, Tom and Andrew got the bug. Working as and when he could in between school and university, I took a role of managing the Penrith Clearance branch. But wanting more of a challenge, over a pint the decision to set up Crosby Shoe Agencies again was reached.