Sunshine shoeshine.

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#41
There are often shoe shine teams working just outside the Lamb pub in the City. The last time I used them it was £3 or £4, and simple Kiwi and brushes, no frills. People will drop small change while killing time, but if they need to open their wallet for paper, there may be more reluctance.

Typical trade was City workers wandering through the market on the way to and from meetings or killing time outside the pub.

I suspect you would need serious passing traffic to make any sort of living wage out of this.
 
#42
It's all coming down to location isn't it? Other than setting up shop outside Wellington Barracks of the like, it would seem that finding a place with lots of people wearing leather shoes that are not actually shiny but need to be then in today's world it is slim pickings.

It might come down to what else can you add into the equation, and shoe wise other than selling laces, inserts etc. I don't know what there is?
 
#43
@DieHard - I think it just might work. When was a kid (many, many years ago) my dad worked for a national magazine in New York City in Rockerfeller Plaza, initially at 30 Rock, later at 45 Rock (building across from St Pat's ) There was a shoeshine man who came around the building about once a week, went from office to office and shined shoes for anyone who asked. That was, of course, back in the days when businessmen all wore nice suits, hats and kept their shoes shined. I seem to recall that anyone who was in the office at the time got their shoes shined. My memory is that the customers tipped well. When the man came by when I was at dad's office he would pay to have my shoes done too.

There also was a woman who had a cart selling coffee and pastry who went around inside the building each morning but I think she was from a company, not freelance.

Edited to add: As a retired lawyer I can tell you that lawyers tend to dress smartly for court and don't want to look scruffy to their clients in court. Is the a area with a lot of big law firms around.
 
#44
In days gone by on one of my extended stays in New York. I used to like having my shoes shinned in the morning by a Harlem shoe shiner. You chose your shiner, get up in the chair and let the ritual take its course. After a few times you get to know each other a bit and it was a pleasant break and some good conversation between negotiating the FDR or the Parkway and an endless round of bullshit bingo.

I think you have a great idea. Build up a loyal customer base somewhere and you won't go poor. People will eventually pay the few pounds not just for the shine but for the break it offers them.
 

DieHard

LE
Book Reviewer
#45
I’m sorry, it’s just not for me.

Good luck anyway.
After reading your post you had me laughing for the first time in ages, thanks
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#46
If you're looking for something that's going to bring a reasonable and stable income, I would suggest this plan isn't for you.

As has been mentioned, younger generation are scruffy cnuts, but I also suspect that if the service is there, they'll take it. However you've got to factor in things like wait time versus service time - if it takes you five minutes to polish a pair of shoes, then customer number 2 has to wait ten minutes, customer three fifteen, and so on.

As it's going to be passing trade, will people wait if they're to'ing and fro'ing from offices for lunch? Probably not.

In terms of transport, that will take a huge chunk of your profit. You'd need to locate city centre and walk from business to business, or get a street seller licence and set up shop.

Lots of issues around this idea. Potential, but how much, mm, I don't know.

I'd thought about starting up a side-line in the work and getting my colleagues boots off them during lunch to polish them up (Police) but then I realised they don't give a **** about the state of their boots, nor do the bosses.
 

DieHard

LE
Book Reviewer
#47
It's all coming down to location isn't it? Other than setting up shop outside Wellington Barracks of the like, it would seem that finding a place with lots of people wearing leather shoes that are not actually shiny but need to be then in today's world it is slim pickings.

It might come down to what else can you add into the equation, and shoe wise other than selling laces, inserts etc. I don't know what there is?
I know an armed police Sgt at Bedfordshire police HQ.
He did a bit of asking around and mentioned that I had been in the mob and was also an ex prison officer.
He has done pretty well passing word around and reckons that if the chief constable of Bedfordshire gives it a go ahead, i would probably get plenty of customers, from people starting a shift and those just finishing a shift that may be too tired to do thier own shoes before thier next shift.
If it does work then there is a possibility that I can go to police stations in Bedfordshire and Luton.
 
#48
I see some problems:

1. Forget London. The annual season ticket is £5000+. That's a big dip into your profits. More so if your health stops you because you won't get a refund.
2. The problem with a shoeshine is that people are attached to their shoes. Your customers need to be static long enough for you to do your work. About the only place that'll happen will be in an airport departures lounge.
3. People are no longer in favour of servitude and that's how many people will see you. They'll be offended on your behalf.
4. People feel the need to multitask. While having their shoes polished and answering e-mails, they'll want a designer coffee. Can you provide this or do you need to set up next to a coffee shop.
5. You'll be setting up on somebody else's property and they'll want a share.
6. If this were a lucrative business, somebody would be doing it cheaper than you. This could be eastern Europeans, asylum seekers or slave labour organised by either travellers or traffickers.
7. Can you do it faster than your competitors? If your customer is used to getting his shoes shined in 5 minutes and you've only done one shoe in that time, he'll want to go and he'll be slagging you off, losing you custom in the process.
8. You're no spring chicken and you've got health issues. Realistically, how long do you reckon you'll be able to do such a physically demanding job?

DH - I admire your ethic and you've spotted a gap in the market. Unfortunately, there are reasons why shoe-shiners are less prevalent than they used to be - people are no longer static and they care less about their appearance.

Maybe you should tweak your plans a little - perhaps instead of shoes, go for cars. Look for private corporate car parks filled with company cars, preferably those that have discrete corporate logos (e.g. estate agents) where appearance matters. Offer to externally clean each car once per week as a standard service and additional cleaning when they've been driving on wet roads.

There are one or two mobile valeting businesses in the Luton/Dunstable area but don't aim to compete with them - pick up what they're missing by offering a no-frills "quick wipe over to maintain their corporate image" service.

Just an idea - static regular customers, go at your own pace, minimal outlay. There are probably lots of similar opportunities to provide a "good enough" service quickly and cheaply in contrast to the more "polished" (excuse the pun), time-consuming and expensive service that others offer.
 

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