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Part of the fabric of Norwich Market: Barry retires after 50 years

PUBLISHED: 16:10 24 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:10 24 September 2018

Barry Read, retired owner of Barry Read's Fabrics on the market, holding fabric

Barry Read, retired owner of Barry Read's Fabrics on the market, holding fabric

Archant

Martin Luther King was assassinated, Manchester United won the European Cup for the first time with George Best weaving his magic, and the Kray Twins were arrested.

Meanwhile, Barry Read opened a fabrics stall on Norwich Market.

Remarkably, with the other events seeming almost like ancient history, Mr Read’s business is today still going. But at the end of this week, he is finally calling it a day after 50 years.

Mr Read, a former electrician, has lived in Norwich his whole life, having been born in Mile Cross and is now living in Eaton Rise.

The 77-year-old, who started aged 26, said: “I just think it’s interesting, you get a rep turn up with a suitcase full of stuff and you think what little gems are in here that I can show to people.

Barry Read, retired owner of Barry Read's Fabrics on the market, holding fabricBarry Read, retired owner of Barry Read's Fabrics on the market, holding fabric

“I’ve found after 50 years I just want a bit more time to myself. I’m hopefully not putting my feet up, I’m looking for a little job with less hours so it keeps me interested, but I’ll take a few weeks off.

“I have had one or two nice comments from people. One woman said, ‘I remember when I was a child my mother would say ‘I must go to Barry’s today’. Most of my first customers aren’t around any more, but their daughters come and see me.

“I’ll just miss it, but I have to move on while I’m still in good health. My son is moving back to Norfolk and his wife’s got a baby on the way, and my daughter’s moving down here. It’s all falling into place.”

Mr Read said he met a man on holiday in France who introduced him to the business.

Barry Read, retired owner of Barry Read's Fabrics on the market, holding fabricBarry Read, retired owner of Barry Read's Fabrics on the market, holding fabric

“They said if I ever wanted to get into fabrics come and see them. We met up in Stoke and he sent me up to Manchester. I bought all the wrong things, but I thought I quite like the challenge of this and I stuck with it.

“I’ve been through less busy times but I have managed. The market went through a bit of a lull about 10 years ago but now it’s come back.

“When you’re selling fabrics it’s all about who you’re buying from and keeping prices reasonable. It’s something I have always based my business on.

“I think when you go back 30 or so years you don’t have all the out of town shopping you have now and the internet so that hasn’t helped the city centre. Retail is a very competitive market.

Barry Read, retired owner of Barry Read's Fabrics on the market, holding fabricBarry Read, retired owner of Barry Read's Fabrics on the market, holding fabric

“I have sold it to a young man who is going to do the business credit because he is going to move it on and sell things on the internet. After all these years I tend to be a bit of a dinosaur. He’s a very organised young man.

“He’s going to retain the name and call it Barry’s of Norwich.”

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