For more than 70 years, William Mills and then his son Iain have cared for people’s feet in Barrhead.

Now the final fitting will take place later this month, before the family’s shoe shop closes its doors for good.

Since Mills first opened for business in 1951, thousands of local people have gone there to buy footwear.

However, changes to shopping habits and the gradual death of the High Street has seen demand decline.

At one time, Barrhead had no fewer than four shoe shops but Mills is the last of a dying breed.

Iain, 65, told the Barrhead News that today’s customers now prefer to buy their shoes online or at giant shopping centres such as Silverburn and Braehead.

He has decided to close the old business to coincide with his own retirement, with the last sale set to ring through the tills on Saturday, August 28.

In the past, local children would be taken to Mills by parents to have their feet measured for the first time, in preparation for their first pair of shoes.

However, with many of today’s youngsters wearing trainers, even to school, demand for shoes and shoe fittings has declined.

William, who died in 1983 at the age of 68, bought the business from local shoe repairer William McAdam in 1951 and quickly turned it into a thriving footwear firm.

It is now the oldest surviving shop in the town – but not for long.

Iain, who was born and brought up in Barrhead, said: “It’s certainly the end of an era.

“When we took over the business, it was already doing shoe repairs, which was a big thing at the time.

“As people became more affluent, they began throwing their old shoes out rather than have them repaired, which was, of course, good for business.”

Iain joined the family firm straight from school in 1974.

Two years later, he and his dad moved the business from 157 Main Street across the road to bigger premises at number 150 after completing a deal with local dentist Gilbert Black.

From there, trade really took off as demand for new shoes in post-war Barrhead began to mushroom.

Iain added: “When I started with the firm, I learned the shoe fitting side of things.

“I went on various courses where I was taught how to measure and size people’s feet.

“In the past, shoe fitting was a big part of the business, particularly for children.

“They would return as adults and then bring their own children to be fitted.

“It used to be a big thing for a child to have their feet measured for the first time but that has all gone now.

“Shoe fitting is a lost art and most children are wearing trainers.”

The new owners of the Mills premises will be present next door neighbours Fraser’s Pharmacy, who are expanding their business.

Iain said that, after deciding to retire, it was never his intention to sell the shop as a going concern.

“People now tend to go to the big shopping centres to get their footwear or they shop online,” he added.

“Many small retailers like ours are also closing because of the overheads and costs.

“It’s happening everywhere now in small towns, not just Barrhead.

“All you see are empty shops in the main streets of most small towns.

“There are fewer and fewer independent traders like ourselves.”

In the early years, shoe repairing played a big part in the family business, employing three full-time craftsmen.

Iain vividly remembers two of the repairers from his schooldays who would mend shoes and boots for local residents.

One was Tommy Bolger, who still has family living in the town, and the other was Jimmy Mooney, who later emigrated to Canada.

Mills enjoyed its best trading years from 1976, when they moved into their new premises, into the early 2000s.

Famous local customers over the years have included former Rangers star David Provan, who played for the club in the 1960s, and legendary folk singer Peter Mallan.

Another business blow to Iain was when Doc Martens stopped selling their products to small shops.

He added: “They cut me off and don’t supply anymore.

“They just wanted the shoes to go to their own shops, where they can make more money.

“That was about four or five years ago.”

Iain says he has a great affection for Barrhead and is very appreciative of the loyalty shown to him by the hundreds of families who have supported the shoe shop and him personally over the years.

To show his appreciation, he is offering customers a 10% discount on orders this month.

Iain, who has never married, intends to spend his spare time improving his golf handicap, gardening and walking his collie dog Tweed.

He has been a keen golfer since his boyhood days and a member at Fereneze Golf Club for more than 55 years.

Iain added: “People have always complimented me on the service I have given them over the years.

“Unfortunately, it’s the end of an era and it is time to retire.

“I have enjoyed meeting and working with the public. There have been more ups than downs.

“Thankfully, I’ll still have plenty to keep me busy.”