As a child my dearest wish was to have a shop. My Auntie married a Master Tailor, I used to visit them, sitting on the side of Auntie’s sewing machine, watching her finish off suits. If she considered I had ‘been good’ i.e., helping to bath and put to bed my little cousin, I could go in the shop and play.
I played with the buttons, the bobbins of cotton, but the best game was opening the wooden till draw, which went ‘ping’ and counting the money. This was the old fashioned days of pounds, shillings and pence. There was a lot to count. All I wanted was my own till and to be able to count my own money.
It would be in 1962, after I was married and my son was eighteen months old. We were living in South Shields on Tynside at the time. We were walking down to the Town Centre, we had £98.00 in his pocket to buy our first fridge. We passed a shop ‘To Let’. “That Estate Agent is ……..? (forgotten his name) Dad, I’ll go and see him”. He went off to see about it, I went back home, dreaming of a wooden till that went ping…
So that is the story of how I got my first shop. Because of the connections to my husband’s job at that time, we opted to open a wool shop. That went well, after a short time, we took a Town Centre shop, and then another, and another. We opened five shops in five years. Unfortunately we didn’t understand cash flow, such rapid expansion was doomed to failure.
We lost our wooden till that went ping, we lost the new expensive electronic tills, we lost our house. We returned penniless to Leeds. It was not easy facing our families, and recovering self worth and confidence, but we did…
Some years later, we went on to open two general shops selling Hardware, Ironmongery, Calor Gas and Gardening stuff. Having learned the hard way. we progressed with care. We were in this trade maybe twenty years, before selling up and retiring.
But I did get to do my ‘dream job’ with all its ups and downs. I still love counting money.