Jessie Boot was born in Nottingham in 1850. His father, John Boot, owned a herbalist shop but he died when Jessie was only a child. Jessie left school at the age of thirteen and helped his mother run the family business. In his spare-time he studied pharmacy and in 1877 opened his first chemist shop.
Boot realised that the established chemists in Nottingham had a price-fixing policy. He therefore decided to sell his goods cheaper than the other chemists. Boot advertised in the Nottingham Daily Expressthat the 128 items in his shop at Goose Gate were being sold at reduced prices. He also employed a bell-ringer to tour the streets ofNottingham informing the public of Boot's policy.