Percy Brothers

Percy Brothers, Export, Wholesale & Retail Boot & Shoe Manufacturers, 75, 77 & 81, Trongate, Glasgow. Branches : 55, Argyle Street, Glasgow ; 14, Hamilton Street, Greenock.

“ Now should not the shoe speak a word.”—Shakespeare.

    In connection with boot and shoe industries, perhaps no name is better known throughout the city than Percy Brothers. The engraving below represents the headquarters of the firm — export, wholesale and retail boot and shoe manufacturers, 75, 77, and 81, Trongate — whose branch establishments are The Percy Shoe House, 55, Argyle Street, Glasgow, and The Percy Shoe House, 14, Hamilton Street Greenock.

    Their head warehouse is literally packed with every conceivable covering for the feet, from ladies’ high class boots and shoes to workmens’ strong nailed water-tights and down to the tiny babies’ size, and we should indeed think the customer would be fastidious who could not be suited at their establishment.

    Messrs. William and Colin Percy started business in Rothesay as boot and shoe manufacturers over a quarter of a century ago, and after some experience in supplying wholesale houses, they determined to inaugurate a system to which they ever after adhered. This consisted in supplying boots and shoes direct from the factory to the public at strictly wholesale prices, thereby saving any intermediate profit. They were not long in establishing a thriving business in Rothesay, and were obliged to look beyond the Scottish Brighton for scope for their enterprise.

    The consequence was the establishment of the Tron Steeple Boot Depot, Glasgow, with its numerous progeny of busy branch establishments. Although very young men, from their energy, push and practical knowledge of their business they soon became the leading men of Glasgow in their line. There is, of course, no royal road to fortune, and in no city is this better exemplified than in Glasgow, whose commercial prowess is known throughout the world ; and Messrs. Percy’s success was not achieved without indomitable perseverance, pluck, and energy. In gradually extending their business, opening shop after shop, Messrs. Percy did not deviate from the system to which, no doubt, their success is largely due, of selling single pairs of boots and shoes at manufacturers’ prices, for cash.

    Their original style of advertising was also a factor in the success of their business, and whatever they attempted had always that stamp of genius and originality upon it which never fails to attract the public. They are credited with introducing an entirely new system into the retail trade of Glasgow, of internal arrangements for the convenience of their customers, and in the matter of dressing windows they had a style peculiarly their own, which has banished the tasteless, unattractive window displays which were wont to indicate the sombre quarters of St. Crispin’s devotees, and given us instead the brilliant, artistic windows of which Percy Brothers still give us, perhaps, the best examples in the city. We are informed on good authority that many of their competitors from beyond the Tweed have made special runs to the Second City to see Percy’s new shops, returning with ideas they have gleaned to captivate their customers in the south.

    The year 1887 was a fatal one for the founders of this business. Mr. Colin’s health had broken down under a severe domestic affliction, and he was seeking to recruit it at Mentone, but being there during the earthquakes, he suffered a relapse instead, and removed to Lake Maggiore in Italy. His elder brother William, when on his way to visit him, was a passenger on the ill-fated steamer Victoria, and was drowned within a few miles of Dieppe. Mr. Colin survived him only about eight months, dying at Las Palmas, Canary Islands. Mr. Archd. A. Percy is the only surviving partner of the firm of Percy Brothers, and we have no doubt that he will continue to sustain the well-earned reputation of his house.

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