The Prince Consort's Shoe Shine Service Sydney

Tuesday 25 Jun 2024
Always play a clean game!
About Us
Our motto is "always play a clean game"

Peter Cooke established the Prince Consort's Shoe Shine Service in 1990 and since that time it has attracted many regular customers, not only from the Sydney CBD but from around Australia and overseas.

We have a number of people in our team and they can visit you in your own office on a weekly basis.

Our shoeshine service has become very popular as a promotional tool for use at trade fairs, product launches, special events and parties.  Our smartly uniformed staff offer a first class service, and owner Peter Cooke, works fulltime to ensure the best quality shine and high standards are maintained.

Here are some press clippings about Peter and our business from a few years back...

From Coffee Who magazine - Jan 2009
By Howard Rich

Peter Cooke"The good Lord looks after the souls of people, and I look after their uppers!" If there were an award for the best business slogan, Peter Cooke's shoeshine business, the Prince Consorts Shoe Shine Service in the QVB*, would be a shoe-in to take the prize. But with a business degree specialising in marketing, one might think shoe shining to be a strange career choice for the 51 year old, bow tie-adorned Englishman, who moved to Sydney in 1985 and now resides in the well-heeled suburb of Artarmon.

"I'd worked in the UK, Belgium and Ireland for a pharmaceutical company, then came to Sydney and tried the food industry. I quit work in 1988 and travelled the world for a year," Peter explains. "On returning to Sydney without any money, I looked around and realised that one of the few businesses that didn't require capital was cleaning shoes."

Setting up business in 1990, Peter soon felt like quitting. "Business was dreadful. People were embarrassed to have their shoes cleaned in those days." He then had a brainwave – visiting people in their offices. "The level of embarrassment wasn't so high and that move helped sustain the business. Today we visit over 100 offices each week on a pre-arranged basis."

Peter has three people working for him full-time and has expanded the business to attend product launches, trade fairs and shopping centres, operating on a 'freebie' basis to the public as his fees are paid for by the commercial concern. Other venues include the Qantas Lounge at Sydney Airport and the SCG for the recent Australia-India cricket Test match.

In 1996, Peter hired a British backpacker, Danielle, to work for him. That union then expanded to a personal relationship and eventually marriage. They are now the proud parents of a son, Alex.

Peter and his team have met some famous people over the years, comedians Billy Connolly and Mikey Robbins to name two. "And whilst I didn't actually meet him, the manager for the singer Gene Pitney sent over his shoes to be cleaned." Politicians and prominent business figures are also regulars. Peter offers four types of shine – Standard, Deluxe, Super Deluxe and Executive – ranging in price from $4.50 to $12.50. A shine can take between 4 and 10 minutes.

"Being able to work my own hours and meet interesting people is what it is all about. Seeing customers with a smile on their face, knowing they have left in a good frame of mind for the rest of the day, is a great feeling for me," says Peter. "Customers feel more confident in themselves after a good shoeshine, in much the same way as they would after a haircut. Presentation is everything to many people and shiny shoes are just a part of that."

* NOTE: Since this article, the prices have changed, Peter has moved from the QVB to The Strand, and he now has TWO sons!

From the(sydney)magazine - Oct 2008
Streetlife - Barry Divola meets a man who gives pedestrians some polish.


PeterSMHWho is he? Peter Cooke, shoe shiner.
Where have you seen him? Cooke has operated the shoe-shine stand in the Queen Victoria Building* for the past 18 years.
What's his story? Cooke worked in marketing before travelling for a year. At the end of his trip, he wanted to work for himself. "I'd noticed shoe shiners in my travels but when I got back to Australia, I realised you didn't see them anywhere," says the 50-year-old. "I had no experience but I taught myself through trial and error."
Does he remember his first shine? "I do. I didn't realise he had chewing gum on the bottom of his shoe and it got all over my foot rest."
How many pairs does he shine a day? Cooke's personal best is 60 pairs. An assistant runs a second stand at The Strand. He also employs people to visit offices as travelling shoe shiners and he is hired by trade fairs and conventions to give free shines. It costs $4.50 for a standard polish and $12.50 for the executive treatment.
What's the hardest thing about his job? "Shyness on the part of people. Guys feel uncomfortable or conspicuous coming up, sitting on a chair and letting someone shine their shoes. But every year it gets better and busier so I think people are getting used to the idea."
Do people "share" with shoe shiners as they do hairdressers? "People have asked me for relationship advice. It's surprising how indiscreet people can be when they're on the phone while sitting here. I've heard some sensitive business conversations. I suppose they think I'm stupid or deaf. In fact, I've got a business degree."
Has he shone any famous shoes? Billy Connolly and Ziggy Marley have had their shoes buffed at Cooke's stand. "And I shined Gene Pitney's shoes before he died," he says. "I didn't get to meet him. His manager brought them over from the hotel."
Has anyone ever taken a shine to him? Eleven years ago, Cooke hired a female assistant from England who was backpacking. Two years ago they married and they now have a one-year-old child.

*NOTE: Since this article, prices have changed, Peter has moved from the QVB to The Strand, and he now has TWO sons!

Photo by Anthony Geernaert.



Peter is a great guy who now has not only a string of loyal customers, but a great many very good friends as a result of his efforts over the last 20 years.  

Geoff Morgan
Morgan and Banks Investments.