Countdown to retirement

Picture by Jeremy Marks 27/3/12
Picture by Jeremy Marks 27/3/12

DAVID Calvert is a man counting down the days to retirement - quite literally.

The Lurgan businessman is calling it a day at The House of Brindle and there’s just nine business days to go before the shutters come down at the popular store.

David has been in the retail business for 35 years and at 66 has decided it’s time to retire, although he’s promised he won’t be going out to pasture.

First opened in the early days of Craigavon Shopping Centre, The House of Brindle was one of its first tenants, selling gents’ clothing.

He then expanded to include ladies’ fashions and he said: “That proved very worthwhile.”

He said: “We had some very good years in Craigavon but there was a lot of pressure to advertise on a Sunday and to trade on a Sunday and that was something we were not prepared to do.”

Always a man of principle and conscience and with a dream for the development of his business David decided on a move to Lurgan where he wanted his business to live up to its name - in premises that looked like a house.

The name The House of Brindle portrayed a warm, homely, inviting and comfortable ambience. This proved a great asset, particularly at Christmas time with open fires burning and live organ music was being played by Roger. This was greatly appreciated and very much enjoyed by customers.

Alongside the extensive travelling commitments for the business, David played a very active role on the local Council for many years working for the people and his home town of Lurgan.

Starting out in Lurgan wasn’t without its difficulties as building work missed its deadline and the opening date was missed: “We lost a complete season, we had the stock and equipment bought but had no sales to December. We lost a huge amount in opening.”

However, David isn’t a man easily put off and quickly expanded the new venture to include a shoe department for both ladies and gents.

When Lurgan was targeted for bomb attack the business suffered significant damage but again David bounced back turning adversity into opportunity by changing many aspects of the shop and adding a gift department.

Next came another vital part of David’s strategy for the business, the addition of a restaurant, as he put it: “This was the catalyst to make it all work.”

He closed the gents’ department and added a children’s department, to bring in more of the big spenders - the ladies.

David was ahead of his time as he set up a database of his customers and realised 85 per cent of his customers came from outside Lurgan, as he put it: “The shop had become a destination shop bringing many people into the town. It was good for me and good for the town with people coming from all over Northern Ireland and the south of Ireland as well.”

Indeed his customer base extended to all parts of the UK, Germany and even the USA.

“It was a tremendous tribute to what we were offering,” said David.

“The whole basis of our business was if you want something different come to The House of Brindle. We travelled all over Europe and north America to source products that were different for our customers, something other shops did not have.”

He pointed out customers felt comfortable in the shop and many would stay all day, or would venture into town to see what the other businesses had to offer.

David is also passionate about the future development of Lurgan and has been a highly active participant at Chamber of Commerce meetings and has never been afraid to state his views.

He has been particularly critical of Craigavon Council’s policies on town centre development and said: “They spent £120,000 on consultants who have done little to aid the town’s development.”

He has also been particularly outspoken on parking provision in the town and very much wants to see a more flexible attitude from parking attendants and the amendment of waiting times from one hour to two.

He is delighted now that, after many years of persistent representation, he has achieved two hour parking in all our side streets, which is to be introduced shortly.

Of retirement, David said: “Yes, I’ll miss the buzz in the shop but I’m not going out to pasture, all I’ll say at the moment is I have other interests which are well documented and some unfinished business.”

Closing his remarks he paid glowing tribute to the staff who had worked with him through the years: “They have all helped in building up the business.”

And of his customers: “My biggest thanks must go to our customers. We have thousands of customers who have been very loyal to us over all these years. Without them we wouldn’t have a business.”

David is now looking forward to spending a little more time in more leisurely activities. David and his wife Yvonne have three children, Karen (a teacher), Kimberley-Jo (a nurse) and Allana (who has been a tremendous asset in both buying and merchandising and general running of the family business). They also have four grandchildren.

The House of Brindle will close on Saturday, April 7, and is currently hosting a clearance sale with a host of great discounts.