As of today Sally Summers will have worked at Saunders Shoes for 70 years. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

Sole-ful job not just work

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

It was a foot in the door when Sally Summers saw that Saunders Shoes was looking for a salesperson.

Seventy years later, she still hasn’t left, having found the job was the perfect fit.

She initially applied for the job after seeing it advertised in the newspaper.

After a week in Auckland meeting the producers and learning about the tannery processes, she was ready.

Over the past 70 years things have changed a lot, she said.

“You don’t see the sales reps like you used to.

“There’s no New Zealand manufacturers anymore. You can still tell the Italian shoes from the others.”

Although the industry and tastes had changed, Saunders has kept her loyal customer base.

“We’ve got our loyal customers,” she said.

“They have got different tastes, but they go for quality. People would rather pay more and buy a good quality pair.”

It’s these people who have kept Summers coming back over the years.

“I’ve served the grandmothers and now I’m serving the great-grandkids. You just go through the family.”

An old school friend of hers comes from Australia about twice a year and buys her shoes from Summers.

“It makes a difference if you don’t have to be there and you want to be there,” Summers said. “I don’t have to work but I enjoy what I’m doing.”

She enjoys helping people find the perfect pair for everyday and special occasions – people often brought in photos of their wedding day.

“To put something on and finish off a garment makes my day. It’s nice to see the final outfit.”

Not all occasions are so happy, such as buying shoes to attend a funeral. There was an element of therapy, talking to customers about their days and their lives, Summers said.

Good customer service and her wealth of knowledge about each customer’s preferences and requirements mean many customers come specially when Summers is working one of her three days a week at the Masterton-based Outlet Store.

Summers was an incredible asset to the business and helped drive the others, owner Tracie Donald said

“She is still passionate about and interested in new shoes. You can’t put a value on that.”

She said that people trusted Summers’ advice.

“She’s just amazing.”

That’s why Donald has organised a special celebration of Summers’ anniversary at Saunders Shoes today.

Friends and customers are invited to visit Summers at the Outlet Store at 98 Queen St from 10.30am until 1.30pm.