THE owner of a much-loved Bolton shoe shop has said she has been overwhelmed with goodwill messages following the decision to close their shop after 70 years of trading.

Whittakers has served generations of Boltonians since Jack Whittaker opened his first shop on St George’s Road in 1952.

A move to Deansgate saw the shop establish itself as a town centre fixture for many years until Jack’s daughters recently announced they would be ceasing trading this autumn.

Citing the coronavirus pandemic and online shopping for the reasons behind the closure, Diane Davies, said it had been an emotional time since they made the news public.

“It’s been unbelievable,” said Diane. “People have been so kind but also really upset - we’ve had customers crying and that has set us off crying too.”

Diane said that it was proving impossible to keep the shop in the current climate despite the goodwill she had received.

“People keep asking why we are closing but we just don’t have the footfall we once did so it just doesn’t add up,” she said.

“Thankfully in the last few weeks we’ve sold quite a lot of shoes and we’re now starting a 50% sale so there are some amazing bargains to be had. Many of the girls have also been able to secure new jobs.”

Diane, 57, who has worked at the shop for 41 years, said she and the other members of staff have been shocked by the reaction to the closure.

She said: “We’ve had loads of cards that customers have written and people have bought us chocolate. People just seem very upset and we’ve had people come in who have been customers for years. I can’t tell you how many messages we’ve had on Facebook too.”

Diane added that she was hoping to spend time with her grandson when the shop closes next month.