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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Ulverston business to close after three decades

THE owner of a well-loved Ulverston business will shut up shop for the last time after more than three decades of service.

Graham Smith, 50, has worked at Smith and Harrison in King Street, Ulverston, for almost 35 years and describes himself as “the Saturday boy that never left”.

He has been the owner of the ironmongers since 1994 but plans to close the business and sell the premises in a few months’ time.

Mr Smith, no relation to the shop’s original co-owner, started working at the shop as a 15-year-old Ulverston Victoria High School pupil.

Customers say Smith and Harrison is not only a great place to buy DIY essentials but also serves as a community hub.

Many regulars pop in for a leisurely chat while out shopping in the town centre.

Reflecting on the last 34 years, Mr Smith: “I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Most of the customers are more friends than they are customers.”

Smith and Harrison was founded in Theatre Street in 1957 by Bob Harrison and Alan Smith before moving to King Street in 1973.

The old fashioned shelving and the way stock is still labelled using the traditional ironmonger’s code give the shop a nostalgic feel.

Many regulars have drawn the comparison with shops seen in the classic comedies Open All Hours and The Two Ronnies.

Mr Smith said: “If I had a £1 for every time someone mentioned the Four Candles sketch, I’d have a fortune.”

But Mr Smith admitted life in the shop has sometimes resembled a TV sitcom. He said: “In this trade, some of the things you sell can get sold on again straight away on the internet.

“We had this old wash board for years and a guy came in who said he was in a skiffle band and wanted to buy it.

“I made him play it before I sold it to him to make sure he was telling the truth.”

Mr Smith said he would look back fondly on his time serving the people of Ulverston.

He said: “The only downside is that it’s very tying, I’m a one-man band here.

“I’ve got a young family and it’s time to spend some time with them.”

Have your say

As the others say, it's sad news and this little gem of a shop will be sadly missed. The number of times I've been in with a "have you got anything for ... ?", Graham would disappear out the back and reappear with something to suit - that's if it wasn't right to hand on the shelves behind him.

But being a one man band must be hard, no "leave it to someone else" while you go for a day out. And I suspect business is hard these days for a small traditional ironmongers, what with all the "big names" selling all manner of hardware, fixtures, and fittings (though not necessarily cheaper !)

I wish Graham well in whatever he moves on to.

Posted by A customer on 4 March 2014 at 14:24

I can remember vividly the two smiling faces
clad in their brown smocks in the 50"s who could put their finger on anything amongst the jumble(TO US).
Graham kept the good work up,and he will be missed for his service and banter.

Posted by Anthony Davidson. on 27 February 2014 at 16:36

View all 5 comments on this article

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