Keith's Heel Bar in Gosport to close after 40 years as owner laments state of the high street
A COBBLER who has been fixing shoes and cutting keys for 40 years says the high street is in a ‘perfect storm’ with no visible way out.
Keith Carter, the owner of Keith’s Heel Bar in Gosport Precinct, is retiring at the age of 60.
But before closing for good, he has spoken out about the troubled nature of the high street – and the lack of a clear solution
He says he’s loved ‘every minute’ of his job but that it’s time to move on.
He said: ‘Since I announced I was retiring people have been coming in all the time which has been really humbling.
‘I’ve had the same customers for 40 years and become very close with so many people.
‘I still love what I do and it’s sad that it’s coming to an end but it just feels like my time to move on.’
Keith plans to stay active in his retirement, with running, cycling, golf and fishing to help fill his days.
Sadly, he and his wife Maria don’t have a replacement lined up to take over the shop, at least in its current role.
‘There isn’t anyone younger who can take this on,’ Keith said.
‘You won’t find someone who is a shoe repairer and a key cutter any more because youngsters just aren’t interested in that as a career, despite it being a very successful industry for people like me.
‘The thing with that is it’s a skill that will always be needed – people will always need their shoes fixed and extra sets of keys.’
As he prepares to leave the retail life behind him, Keith has called for more to be done to protect the Gosport high street.
He said: ‘There is no one solution, it’s a perfect storm.
‘Customers don't come because there’s nothing here, but because there’s no customers nobody opens anything new.
‘The council should have done something with the bus station when Gunwharf Quays opened, now everyone just gets on the ferry to Portsmouth for their shopping.
‘I worry that it could be too late now.’
Keith’s Heel Bar will close on March 28.