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Northampton factory shops

simian

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There are quite a few posts on factory shops here. My wife and I have been visiting some of the shops in the past weeks and thought I would share my experiences. I live about and hour-and-some from that area, and visited one shop at a time. We tried to make a day our of the visit - looking up local shops, trying out the restaurants, etc.

Preferences: My two favourite brands are G&G and EG. G&G shoes fit me the best, and constitute the largest chunk of my collection. EG shoes are close behind. Among the other brands I have tried: I have a pair of C&J Hallams that are absolute lemons and had soured my view of the brand. I complained to the Jermyn Street store, and they persuaded me to try a pair of Barringtons. These have been really good, and my view of C&J has changed quite substantially - I would definitely buy C&J. I also own AS, St.Crispins, Carmina and J.M. Weston. Suffice it to say that they are all good, but I will perhaps confine my future purchases to G&G, EG and C&J (and maybe AS).

Factory shops visited: Barkers, Cheaney, C&J, John Lobb, EG, and Loake (the Loake shop is in Cambridge)

Barkers. I wasn't interested in their shoes but my wife spotted a pair of oxfords she wanted to buy at their Regent Street store in London. We thought we'd check out the factory shop and see if we could get a better selection (and deal).
The shop is at Earls Barton, in the vicinity of the main town. Access is easy (off A45). There's plenty of parking at the factory premises.
Selection: the men's selection is not bad at all in terms of quantity and variety. There are two types: seconds and samples. Seconds appear to be priced at 40-45% of RRP, samples at around 60%. We ended up going twice, and my wife picked up two pairs that were priced very well (there was a third pair that she eventually did not buy). I looked around, tried a few. I don't know much about the blemishes in the seconds, because my wife bought samples.
Service: Ok. Not spectacular.
Conclusion: if you like their styles, the shop is well worth a visit - for both mens' and women's shoes.

Cheaneys. I was interested in a few of their styles. I called ahead about women's shoes and was told that the selection is very limited. They were not kidding.
The shop is close to Northampton (the name of the town escapes me). Access is easy, and so is parking.
Selection: the men's selection is extensive if you wear F. There's a handful of E's, mostly made for others (Herring?) and the Japanese market. I tried our a few (I wear E), but did not buy any. My wife did find some nice Chelseas but decided that she'd had enough pairs. I don't know enough about Cheaney prices, but my impression is that the seconds are half off. And the blemishes seemed to be minimal.
Service: excellent. They knew their stuff, and were passionate about what they were selling.
Conclusion. Same as Barkers, with the caveat that the collection of women's shoes is very small. I'll give them another go.

C&J. I was really looking forward to this one. My wife was not familiar with the brand (except for the James Bond reference).
The shop is in Northampton. Access is easy. Parking is on the street, and can be a bit of a challenge.
Selection: I was very disappointed in that there were only 5-6 pairs in my size. The women's counter had a total of 4 pairs, so wife was even more disappointed. She could see just how well-made the shoes were, but there was nothing in her size to try on. I found a couple of pairs of Hallams, but I already have them. A pair of loafers looked enticing, but not nearly enough. The shop is very small, but maybe they have other sizes. The prices were about 45% of RRP. The blemishes were minimal.
Service: OK at best. It was an hour from closing time, but still...
Conclusion. Nothing in it for me. Perhaps you'll have better luck.

John Lobb. I wanted to try out some of their oxfords, and I know my fit in 7000.
The shop is in Northampton. Access is no problem; we did not have any problem with parking either.
Selection: Reasonable collection. I think with some luck you're likely to find something in the 7000 or 8000 last. I found a couple of pairs, but they looked too similar to shoes I already have. I don't remember the discount over RRP, but the shoes did not look blemished at all!
Service: not bad.
Conclusion. I think it's well worth a visit. I'll give it another go.

EG. I can't say enough good things about EG, and was very keen to visit. My wife, less so, but she came along anyway.
The shop is in Northampton. Access is easy (off A45). But parking is a PITA. The only way is to be double parked in their parking lot. Everyone was doing it. I wonder what would happen if someone wanted to move his/ her car.
Selection. Now, this is what I call a selection! I found 20 pairs in my size and stopped counting after that. Plenty in E, not sure about F. All the models that I would look for (Dover, Canterbury, Chelsea, Asquith...) were available. The blemishes were barely noticeable. I tried 7 pairs, and left with two. A third would have been added, except that I was feeling guilty about buying from the G&G sale last Friday. The prices are about 45-50% of RRP.
Service. Not bad.
Conclusion. Well worth a visit. I'll certainly go again.

The Loake shop is in Cambridge, so there's not much point in writing about it except to say that the staff are the best of all the factory shops I have visited.

We plan to visit NPS and possibly Church. But not yet.

As for shops and cuisine: we did not find much to write home about. Perhaps the best meal we had was at the Northampton County Cricket Club - the restaurant was open because a cricket match was going on (the first match of the season, I think).

I wish you much luck in finding a few pairs of shoes, but I have to say that the overall experience has been a lot of fun. Driving through villages and beautiful countryside has been the best part.
 

simian

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Aug 6, 2013
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Thank you for the write up, can you please put in the actual factory prices, instead of a percentage?

I didn't keep any notes, the visits were not really planned, they just happened. It occurred to me when visiting the EG shop this week that I could perhaps find a way of sharing my experiences. So, I can't answer your question with much more precision than the numbers above.

Here's what I remember. EG shoes go for either GBP460 or 550 (Dovers are 550) - not sure why there are two categories of prices (inclusive of VAT. If you look at the website prices, that's about 45-50%. The Barker seconds go for around GBP 100, the website prices are around GBP 230; so 40-45%. The C&J Hallams were priced at GBP 180; the RRP is around 410 or so. And so on.

HTH.
 

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