Margaret has seen the evolution of the city centre

Margaret Overmeyer has watched the city centre grow over the past two decades.

The city has become a second home for store manager Margaret Overmeyer, who has been travelling to and from her workplace for over two decades.

Margaret, who is from Blue Downs, works at a retail shoe shop in Mill Street, and for the past 21 years, has been making her way through the city centre with her two girls – come rain or shine.

“I started out in a supermarket when I finished matric, then after five years, I landed this job. At the time, I knew nothing about shoes.”

The store that Margaret works at is mainly for people with “problematic feet”, she said.

“When I first started here 21 years ago, the shoes were so expensive and I didn’t understand why, but over the years I learnt about health shoes and also a bit about orthopaedics and what makes a good shoe.

“It’s not just about the shoe you sell, it’s about how you sell it. You have to explain to a customer the benefits of having to pay
R1 000 for a boot.”

She said while women always look for attractive, stylish shoes, men are more simple.

“Women will always come in and go for what looks good, but it’s all about comfort and securing your foot. Women like to wear slippers, but I would recommend something that has a back strap or a strap over the foot, so that you don’t have to grip your shoes with your toes. “

She said the same for men and children. “For men, something with laces is always good, as well as for children, because they need to be able to walk properly – something that holds the foot. With toddlers, the foot grows according to the shoe you wear, so it’s important for toddlers to have good grip and security.”

She said when she first started 20 years ago, there used to be half-sizes, but they don’t make it locally anymore.

“We still stock half-sizes, but locally, it was a bit of a hassle to get half sizes when people can just use innersoles or heel grips.”

While Margaret enjoys the convenience of the city centre and the quiet spot the store is situated in, she says that the CBD has become a concern for her, especially travelling with her daughters.

“In the morning, my daughters and I take the bus to town. When I first started here, my eldest was only two years old. Now she is 23 years old.”

She said she has placed her youngest daughter at Gardens Commercial High School and her eldest daughter works in Buitenkant Street.

“It’s better to have them close to me, so I can work soundly.”

However, she said that the hustle and bustle in the CBD makes it a difficult place to work or play. While it is convenient, she said that it can become very intimidating.

“The number of homeless people have increased over the years. I once had a customer who comes to Cape Town every year from overseas, and he asked me what the government is doing about all the street people. I couldn’t answer him, but I have noticed an increase, as my daughters and I take a daily walk through the city.”

She also said that the brazen drug usage is out of control. “People throw a jacket or a blanket over their heads and do drugs in public.

“It’s scary to see that kind of thing – and it happens all the time, especially on the Parade. It wasn’t like this in the past. Also, I’ve witnessed people being pick-pocketed, and also saw people’s bags being stolen in front of me, so I am happy to be on the outskirts.

“The space is safer. Central town is too chaotic.”

She also said that the area has become a lot “younger”.

“I think with all the new apartment blocks and the area becoming so trendy, the older people are moving out. A lot of my older customers have gone to live in old-age homes in the suburbs. But it is convenient to get to this part of town with the new MyCiTi bus routes, and the parking is easier than in the CBD. Traffic is not congested either, so I’m happy,” she said.