Styles, fashions and large consumer chains come and go but family businesses go on forever!
Fifty years ago this week, in July 1972, Paddy Swarbrigg opened his very first shoe shop on Oliver Plunkett Street Mullingar and worked every day, along his late wife Jacqueline, and his children, daughter Kate and sons, Brian, John and David to make the business the success it is today. Paddy decided to retire four years ago, but Kate and Brian continue to work hard to bring Swarbrigg’s Shoe Shop Mullingar over the line, fifty years later.
The shop is going from strength to strength and with the introduction of the new website to the business a few years ago, we’re sure this popular family business will still be in Mullingar in another fifty years.
What it means to be fifty years in business
Topic caught up with Kate Swarbrigg last week for a quick chat about what being in business for fifty years means to the Swarbrigg family.
“It’s very special for us” Kate says, “people have been coming here from day one and many of them are still coming back to buy shoes from us today, fifty years on. We see generations of people come through the shop and it’s great to see our name being carried on in families as the place to go to”.
Kate went on to point out that “we have come through recessions and the Covid period, and this brought the online / website business to fruition as it was something we always chatted about but never got around to because we never had time. During Covid, we had time and suddenly we were live, selling night and day via the website, going nationwide as opposed to catering only to locally and this has made a huge difference to our business”.
Swarbriggs Shoes website (https://swarbriggshoes.com) is very easy to use and can be accessed from all over the world!
Success attributed to the great Paddy Swarbrigg
Kate was quick to highlight that much of the success is due to their father, Paddy Swarbrigg, who is well known in the town and had a great business ethic.
“The success is down to our Dad who has been there all this time. He would be well known in the town and that kept people dropping in. He and our late mother built the foundations that are still going strong today,” Kate proudly tells us. She went on to say that “we all were brought up through the shop, working in it. My two other brothers also worked here in summers and myself and Brian went on to now manage the shops in Mullingar and Athlone, with Brian and myself jointly taking care of the buying, and I tend to manage the office and accounts work. So it really is a family business”.
Like many local family run businesses in the town of Mullingar, they are not shy to share their success with local community groups. Kate says that “there is a lot of community involvement in the shop as we sponsor quite a few events, groups and fundraising activities, which we have been doing from the start and are happy to do”. Kate acknowledges that this community involvement is very important in our town and they are proud to be part of what goes on in the town.
While joking about how fashions come and go, and come back again, Kate points out that they have always had a very successful business for not just mens and women’s shoes but particularly for children’s shoes. “Kids shoes is a very strong line for us, especially for the back to school shoes, when we are always very busy”. All Swarbriggs staff are all trained children’s fitting specialists ensuring that your children’s feet will be fitted to perfection, from the cradle to their teens.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the great staff we’ve had through the years” says Kate.
“Dad would have had a lot of staff for year; Alison is the longest staff member and Mary Ann would be there for many years also. Brian is there 18 years”. Kate agreed that the great staff are also a very important part of the success.
With the Fleadh coming up and the anniversary week in full swing, Kate and Brian and the team are all set for a busy few weeks ahead. Swarbriggs Shoes are offering 30% sale for the fiftieth anniversary celebrations, which will be a welcome discount as children get ready to go back to school and we all get booted up for the winter season.
Swarbriggs also have gift cards available, which make the perfect gift for that special someone. The gift cards are very popular as you can use them anytime you wish, even during sales.
To ensure back-up and longevity for the shoes Swarbriggs sell, they also stock a large range of shoe care products, including cleaners, renovators, protectors and polish.
Kate concluded with a sincere word of thanks to all their patrons and staff throughout the years, stating that “without dedicated customers and hard working staff, we would not be where we are today and we want everyone to know we are truly grateful”.
Topic Newspapers, along with all the advertisers and well-wishers in this feature, including Egan Auctioneers, ACS Drives, O’Sullivans Menswear & Boyswear, Fraynes, John P. Foy Menswear, Shaws Hardware, Columbia Bar, Fagan Office Supplies, Creative IT, Walsh Jewellers, The Fashion Shop, Female Boutique, McDonnell Auctioneers, Just Books and Weirs Pharmacy congratulate all the team at Swarbriggs on their 50th year in business this week!