We're proud to be a New Zealand based, family-owned and operated footwear retailer with a rich history in craftsmanship and design. It’s fair to say we’ve been through quite a journey. King Country Shoes, Shoetown, Overland and now Merchant 1948 - sound familiar?
Shane Anselmi, Managing Director
“My grandfather, Guglielmo (Bill), was an Italian immigrant who settled in the King Country in the 1930s. He worked hard and became a very successful farmer but was also quite entrepreneurial and after helping a friend in a business deal in 1948, ended up with three small King Country shoe stores. My father Tony, who was one of six children, much preferred working in the shoe stores to the farm. So, in the 1950s, he bought the stores from his father and grew the company – opening more discount shoe stores, as well as a shoe factory called Fabia, that became one of the country’s biggest.
Having spent my school holidays on my uncle’s farms, I wanted to follow in their footsteps and become a farmer. But two years into an Agricultural Degree at Massey I realised the farming life wasn’t for me! I got involved in Dad’s shoe stores, called Shoetown, in the late 1980s and, not seeing a future selling discount shoes out of high rent malls, came up with the Overland concept in 1990.“ (Inside Retail)
Our most recent name change from Overland to Merchant 1948 stemmed from our move to Australia. We had constant feedback that Overland sounded like an outdoor/hiking footwear company. We needed a name that reflected the experience we gave and the shoes we sold. Seeking family history for inspiration for a new name, our Managing Director, Shane Anselmi turned to his memories of Bill, his grandfather. He was a farmer with 6 kids and was great at buying products, adding value and selling it. Bill was the ultimate merchant. So in celebration of our past, we created Merchant 1948.