Saturday, 18 January 2014

Workmans of Garvagh.


There have been huge changes in the high street over the last fifty or sixty years. Whenever Super Mac was telling us that we never had it so good the typical town and village had a commercial centre which was populated in the main by local businesses. Out of town shopping centres did not exist. The inexorable march of the dreaded supermarket was just beginning. There may not have been too many candlestick makers, but there certainly were some quite idiosyncratic enterprises which added interest and colour to the local scene. I remember the smell of the ropes and canvas in McMichael's chandlery business in Londonderry's Sackville Street and the sight of the golden teapot over McCullagh's grocery and tea emporium in Waterloo Place. Too many of our towns, cities and even villages are now clones of one another with the same names and commercial livery appearing on their high streets and of course their out of town retail parks.

Now and then you do however come across a business which has a character of its own and which hasn't succumbed to modernity. Workmans hardware and farm supply business in Garvagh is definitely one of those. Its charm, its interest and its success is that it is old fashioned. The labyrinth of storage rooms and lofts is packed with items you really do need, but you don't know the name for. To say that the front shop is crowded with stock is being very economic with the truth. For the most part this is a shop where you edge towards the ancient counter and ask for the item that you want and it then is brought to you from the inner reaches. Paraffin lamps hang from the ceiling and are clearly still a big seller. You are likely to see squirrel and mink traps in the window. Nails are still sold by the pound and I suspect even individually. If you want batteries the fact that there are eight in the pack will not prevent them selling you four. This is a business which provides what its customers want.


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