Innovate, Serve and Celebrate – Three Disruptive Lessons – Gemmell’s Footware
Symonds Street Auckland, on the edge of the CBD is an oasis of soulful businesses.
I was there because my favorite business bag needed some wheel repair and I had been referred to Gemmell’s Footware as a place that does quality luggage repairs.
However, when I reached Gemmell’s premises, I knew I had entered an “experience”.
The place is amazing. I stood outside before entering, marveling at what didn’t look like a humble shoe and luggage repair store, but more like a temple, celebrating craftsmanship and excellence.
Visually, there’s a lot of black objects contrasted by white high walls. Black aprons, rows of black shoe boxes storing all manner of things…and a black clad barrister with a post industrial work station with an old fashioned puppet busy repairing something.
The machines and work are done out back, which you can see glimpses of serious and focused craftsman and women hard at work with beautifully maintained old machinery.
There’s a row of focused and enthusiastic black apron-cladded people ready to serve you.
The effect is stunning, my attention was grabbed by Aaran Gemmell, who quickly worked out my problem and figured out a solution and a reasonable price, making it easy to hand over my beloved workhorse bag.
I turned and was immediately asked by an attentive Barrister ~ “Would you like a coffee?”
“My God! I’m in heaven!” I thought as the Barrister started telling me the story of Gemmell’s Footware, 3 generations in the making, how last year they had survived a terrible Friday night fire that gutted their shop, and how the family had risen from the ashes, to open again on Monday, to serve their customers. How they set up a table and chairs to greet them at the front of the workshop, moving forward in the face of disaster.
He told me of how the big brands like Karen Walker, World, Trelise Cooper, Working Style, RM Williams, Kathryn Wilson and Scarpa played a role in keeping the wheel turning too, rallying to recommend Gemmell’s for leatherwork and repairs. Many of them have had postcards in their stores advertising that Gemmell’s is soon to be back in business.
When he pointed out Aaran’s mum, working hard at the front desk, my eyes started to water and he continued to tell me that Ian Gemmell, Aaran’s Dad, was out delivering to customers.
Here was a tight family, hit by disaster, working in Struggle Street, battling to survive and doing with enthusiasm, style and dignity. How inspiring.
But there’s more. They have done it in an industry that is supposedly dying. They have done it by elevating their so-called weakness, into their secret weapon…and super-charged it by serving with excellence, their stakeholder customers, suppliers and community.
Look and learn.
Here is a perfect example of a business in an industry, decimated and disrupted, where practicing excellence is the only option, moving forward.
I recommend you seek out your luggage or shoes that need to be repaired and go straight to 191 Symonds Street Auckland, just to breathe in the rarified atmosphere this remarkable family has created.
You know, I’ve heard a few trusted commentators say that 2020 will be the most disruptive year ever recorded in our economy. All of us will have to face similar situations such as the Gemmell family has faced with such grace, enthusiasm, grit, invention and style.
Look and learn.
….and hey! They just texted me that my bag is ready – three days early!!
Who said traditional businesses can’t be sharp and savvy!
Want some support? email me, Mike e Kennedy