Business of the week: Meet Finchley Road cobbler George, who’s never taken a sick day in 35 years

George F Michael - too shy to let us show his face, but content to be seen working behind the counte

George F Michael - too shy to let us show his face, but content to be seen working behind the counter as he has done for the last 35 years. Picture: Tom Parfrey - Credit: Archant

In a new weekly feature, we speak to the people behind some of Hampstead and Highgate’s best small businesses. This week, we visited George Michael (not that one) at his cobbler’s shop of 35 years in Finchley Road station.

Tucked away in Finchley Road station is George’s Shoe Repairs, a mainstay of the local community for the last three decades.

A refugee from the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, George F Michael arrived in Chiswick where he learned to be a cobbler from his cousin.

“I’ve stood here for 35 years and never taken a sick day because I love what I do. We are the most useful shop around,” said George, 66.

George diversified his business as shoe repairs slumped. Gone are the days when the business was a hive of activity repairing hundreds of pairs of expensive Italian leather shoes.

“My parents always told me to buy good shoes. The young are not told that any more,” he said. The younger generation now buy cheap shoes and replace them, he said, rather than get them repaired.

The cobbler’s shop hosts an impressive array of umbrellas, shoelaces in every size, and polishes in every colour. George points to Fulton’s umbrellas, a brand used by royalty. “We have the largest range for a shop our size.” he said.

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His diary, going back decades, is full of receipts from local businesses needing his services – anything from opening locks to providing security keys and fobs.

As one customer tells us: “George does it all and with a smile. I’ve been coming here for years.”

The shop is open six days a week, Monday to Saturday.