Famous Harrogate shop to close after 25 years

There was sad news this week in Harrogate for anyone who has ever felt the need to hire glitter platform boots - or a Viking helmet, perhaps.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 2:45 pm
Updated Friday, 13th March 2020, 3:08 pm
End of an era - Jane Palmer of Footlites, Harrogate's only fancy dress hire shop which is set to close. (Picture by Gerard Binks)

Footlites, the town’s only fancy dress hire shop is to close.

A legendary name for generations of party-goers in Harrogate, as well as people involved in special events, this veritable Aladdin’s cave located at 4 Commercial Street has prided itself for nearly 25 years on meeting every request - no matter how extravagant or silly.

In that time, it has provided thousands of customers with wigs, long black gloves, sparkling top hats, red velvet Santa suits, Roman togas, cowboy outfits, pirate costumes, masquerade eye masks, kipper ties, coloured hair spray, snazaroo make-up, children’s costumes and a lot, lot more.

Star footballers from Leed United and famous actors from Emmerdale have even turned up on occasion at the shop looking for something to wear.

But now Footlites owner Jane Palmer is calling it a day on the business she first opened in May 1996 to have more time with her grandchildren.

She said: “I’ve provided a service unique to Harrogate. Footlites became very well known as the only local fancy dress hire shop, for many, many miles.

“We became known as ‘an Aladdins Cave’. It didn’t matter what customers asked for - an inflatable fish, a Victorian pocket watch, giant England flag, we nearly always had it.”

After providing a vital service for everything from Halloween shenanigans or children’s parties, to charity events and dance shows for nearly quarter of a century, Footlites will close this Spring.

However, when Jane first launched the business, it wasn’t as a fancy dress shop at all.

She said: “I originally opened just as a dance and ballet shop, providing the whole range of dance wear including all footwear, leotards, cardigans, catsuits, jazz pants then expanding into gymnastic wear and pointed shoes.

“But since the closure of Homburgs in Leeds many years ago, Footlites has been the only hire shop locally.”

The shop once starred on TV in Channel 4’s reality show, Come Dine With Me but Jane says the pleasure of running the shop for so long was in serving everyone and she would be sad to end - once the closing down sale was finally over.

So dedicated was the shop to its customers that, in March 2007, when Red Nose Day came along, Jane had a taxi drive to Leeds to collect a further 12 dozen red hair spray cartons to supply customer demand.

Jane said: "It seemed that every parent from Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon to Pateley Bridge was queuing all the way outside Footlites and up the street.

"We finally served everyone and shut the shop at 6.30pm.

"It was always a joy to see the relief on parents faces when they found out Footlites had just what they wanted - whether it was a last-minute rush for a Viking costume, Evacuee Day, Victorian, Egyptian, Roman or Book Week outfit.

She said: “I was always touched when customers came down and said “someone in Marks and Spencer’s suggested you’d have it, or a lady in Hoopers mentioned you stock what I want.

"The same customers came back to us every Christmas for over 20 years.

“I want to sincerely wish all my customers over the years a huge, huge thank you.”