Sheringham fashion shop to shut

Ivan Smith outside his Sheringham fashion shop, which he is closing after 32 years. Photo: Karen Bet

Ivan Smith outside his Sheringham fashion shop, which he is closing after 32 years. Photo: Karen Bethell - Credit: Archant

When fashion retailer Ivan Smith opened his first shop in Sheringham town centre 32 years ago, people had to travel miles to the nearest supermarket, and internet shopping was a thing of the future.

'It has all changed,' Mr Smith said. 'Sheringham was absolutely bustling all year round, but, now, more people than ever are buying online and, in the winter, I just don't think there is much reason for local people to come in to town.

After ploughing more than £60,000 into his High Street store, Wardrobe Warehouse, over the past four years, Mr Smith has decided to shut up shop.

'I can make money over the summer but then I give it away over the winter and, over the year, I am losing money,' he said. 'And, with business rates and rent going up and up, the expense of just opening the doors on a Monday morning means it just isn't worthwhile.'

Because he is approaching retirement, and his lease is due for renewal, Mr Smith, 64, took the decision to cut his losses and close, but will continue to sell discounted clothing on Sheringham market, and via his online shop.

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Born in Lincolnshire, Mr Smith opened his first clothing store in his home town of Spalding at the age of 20.

After a stint as a laboratory assistant at British Sugar, he chanced on the idea of selling mail order returns after meeting a retailer shipping bags of catalogue clothing to India.

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Mr Smith went on to forge a thriving business which, at its height, saw him working 16 hours a day and buying six thousand items of clothing at a time.

After he puts up his 'closed' sign for the final time at the end of the month, Mr Smith is planning to take life a little easier, and is looking forward to spending more time with his partner Jude and their six grandchildren.

'I will miss the shop, especially the customers, who have been fantastic, but it will be nice to have more time on my hands,' he said.

Among the funny moments from his shop days he recalled a shoplifter who brazenly walked out with a chest of drawers, a customer who wanted a refund after 18 months, and a woman who bought sunglasses in April then asked for her money back in October.

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