One of the oldest shops in Halifax is to close after more than 200 years of trading in the heart of the town.
B. Aaron & Son, at Northgate, will open its doors for the final time today, bringing an end to a business which has spanned more than two centuries and seen eight generations of the same family at its helm.
It will be a sad day for Paul Benajmin Aaron - the last in the long line of Aarons who have stood at the forefront of the 206-year-old business - when he turns into work for the final time.
Its history began in 1810, when after fleeing from his native Hanover and the Franco-Prussian Napoleonic Wars, Benjamin Aaron opened his boot and shoemaker’s business at its first of many locations in Halifax - 24 Gaol Lane.
But Paul says strong competition from the internet and supermarkets in recent years has cut into sales, forcing him to make the difficult decision to close.
“I’m not happy that I’m the man nailing the coffin together,” Paul, 40, said. “But you have to be realistic about things and it’s just not viable anymore.
“The big chain stores and the internet are a massive, massive deal nowadays. It has been nice to serve the world and we do have customers from all over the world from Australia to America.
“It’s the end of an era - there’s been lots of characters over the years and people we have built relationships with. They’re not just customers, they are friends.”
Quality in its boots, workwear and repairs is something B Aaron has always prided itself on
Paul added: “I had a bloke come in and he had a pair of boots on that he’d had for 30 years. You buy cheap stuff and they don’t last.”
And as he moves on to pastures new to become a gardener, Paul’s parting message is:
“Thanks to all past and present customers for their loyal support through hard times of late. The past owners, David and Philip Aaron, would like to thank customers for their regular visits during the better times, to the shop on Northgate.
“This is a sad and disappointing time for all involved.”
How B. Aaron & Son stood the test of time for more than 200 years to become one of town’s oldest shops:
1810 - B. Aaron & Son begins life at 24 Gaol Lane.
1871 - Census records the business employing 22 men, two women and two boys.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, it was renowned for manufacturing industrial clogs.
They were made in large numbers and supplied to the likes of Rowntree Mackintosh, Crossley Carpet and many engineering companies.
1960s - Purchasing from the Ministry of Defence began. Huge numbers were bought and reconditioned in the shop.
1990s- The business started purchasing German army boots and military clothing - increasing the range of products available in the shop. At this point, a new type of military boot was noticed which offered great comfort and quality like nothing seen before.
1995 - Demand was so high for the boot that B Aaron and Son managed to locate the German manufacturer.
Sales took off with brand new boots available, eventually requiring the importing side of the business to separate from B. Aaron and Son and start up independently as Aaron Distribution in 2003.