The founder of this now well established family business was Joseph Reid, a farmers son born in Cookstown in 1875. Joseph was the youngest of six children, he had three brothers and two sisters.
John Reid, the eldest of the boys travelled to America so the farm was passed on to Willy the second eldest of the children. Joseph being the youngest decided that the farming life was not for him and instead served his apprenticeship to the tailoring trade in his home town of Cookstown.
In 1917 Joseph left his family and travelled on his own to Belfast and started a footwear business at 99 Sandy Row. At this time Joseph set about teaching himself the specialised craft of high class boot and shoemaking. Through lots of hard work and dedication the business soon became established and this lead to Joseph having to employ seven or eight men in his workshop.
Sandy Row at this time was seen as a working class area but Joseph had built up a clientele from the more affluent nearby areas of Malone and the Lisburn Road. This led to him earning a reputation as a bespoke shoemaker to the gentry. As the business continued to flourish Joseph proceeded to get married and have his own family. He had three sons, Stanley was born in October 1927, Don in May 1929 and Vance in September 1930.
The three boys were all still young when Joseph died at the age of 64 in 1939. After his death his wife Annie kept the business running until the the boys were at an age to takeover. Stanley was first to become involved after the end of the Second World War in 1947, soon to be followed by Vance in 1949. The middle of the three brothers Don decided that he would train and soon become a qualified electrician. Stanley and Vance were like their father in many ways, they were not afraid of hard work.[pullquote align=”left”] STILL A FAMILY BUSINESS[/pullquote] This hard work and vision for the future, selling shoes rather than making them, led to premises being also being opened on the Shankill Road and in Lisburn. The premises on the Shankill Road eventually closed due to the troubles that gripped Northern Ireland. In 1985 the premises at Sandy Row was destroyed due to a gas explosion in the adjacent property. After two years a new shop at 111-119 Sandy Row was opened by the then Lord Mayor of Belfast and the Managing Director of Barker Shoes.
The premises in Lisburn did not escape the effects of the troubles. It was also destroyed, by a fire bomb in December 1979. Again new premises opened a few years later in 1982 at its current location of 21 Market Square, Lisburn.
The business is now still family owned and in its third generation selling a comprehensive range of Mens, Ladies and Childrens shoes from their two 10,000 square foot premises.