10 years in the making

Just a minute… With Len and Photis Callis from Callis Shoe Repairs

Hi Len! How long have you and your brother had your business in Crouch End?

My brother, and me we’ve been here since 1996. 1ST April so almost 23 years!


How did your business come about?

Initially, we were going to open a shop across the road. There was a shoe repairs called Rickards and we were just about to buy it and he said sorry boys, I’ve become too attached to it. This shop was also for sale so we said if you’re not going to sell we’re going to buy opposite you and that’s what we did!


What are the best things about owning your own business?

(Long pause) Well the best thing is you’re able to go forward by your own abilities. All your efforts and your struggles are all for you and your family not for someone else. That’s the only benefit so when you go forward, your business goes forward and that’s the main thing.


What don’t you like about it?

You don’t get that time you want with your family. You’re doing phenomenal hours, sometimes 18/19 hours a day. No-one forces you to do extra hours but if you’re going to open a business to make a living then don’t open your own business, go and work for someone else because you’ll be ten times happier. If you’re going to do it then it means working long hours, not seeing your family & coming home after midnight. Then you arrive at 9 the next morning and there’s a queue of people outside and they make fun of you and say did you sleep in? The worst thing though is bereavement. Five years ago my godmother died and we had to come in the next day and it was our busiest day ever! That was really hard.


What are the main challenges you face as a small independent business?

Firstly, keeping the shop open six days a week but also keeping all the customers happy all of the time. We do that because after 20 years experience it becomes natural to you. That’s the important thing, keeping the customers happy because they’re really your bosses and people forget that. If you put them second, your business won’t succeed. You have to treat your customers like your friends and family!


What’s the biggest seller?

There’s no one thing that’s bigger then another. We do multiple things. Our main lines are shoe repairs, key cutting, locksmithing, watch repairs, sundries like polishes and sprays and new laces. Times are much harder now and people recycle a lot more these days.  People used to chuck shoes away because they were dirty and needed new laces but now they look after them more and buy sprays, new laces and get the soles done and things like that so they last longer.


What’s one of your favourite films of all time and why?

The one that’s sentimental to me is when we watched E.T. because it was the last film I watched with both my dad and my brother. It was the last film we ever watched together. We actually watched the ending first because we were late and then we watched the beginning so we knew what was going to happen!


You can go to Callis for all your shoe repairs. They sell various polishes, sprays and laces. They also do key cutting and locksmith work. They repair watches and sell watch batteries.  They sell key rings and torches and a host of other very useful items! They will basically try and help you with whatever shoe, boot or watch you bring in and always at a competitive price and with a smile!


Callis are open 6 days a week (not Sundays) and you can find them at 37 Broadway Parade N8 9DB