The owner of Gerrys of Wimbledon reflects on 56 years of trade as the shutters come down on his family business after receiving an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Clive Doughty’s parents, Gerry and Gwen, opened Gerrys as a model aircraft retailer in 1960 before transitioning to angling.
In the decades since they have gone on to sell darts and shooting equipment to satisfy the continuous stream of faithful patrons.
Clive, who began work on The Broadway in 1973, said: “All the regular customers have been coming in and shaking my hand, it’s really been quite nice.
“We’ve had a lot of good customers over a number of years and they’re all sad to see us go.”
The news hasn’t been easy for Clive or his customers.
“It is difficult,” he said.
“They come in and say, ‘I can’t believe you’re closing’.”
Clive, 59, has seen multiple generations of families come through his doors over the years and he admits it is tough to say goodbye.
He said: “Someone came in and said, ‘my granddad bought my dad in and brought him his first rod, my dad bought me in and brought me my first rod and I’ve bought my son in and brought him his first rod’.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry but it’s the end of line’.”
Clive and his family have got to know their customers over the years.
He said: “This guy walked in the shop that must be 6ft4in tall who used to come in wearing short trousers from school.
“Now he’s holding a small child as a grown man, that’s when you feel old.
“My mum used to say ‘I can remember them coming in as kids and then they come in with a pushchair with their children’, now that happens to me.”
The family also own four two-bedroom flats above the shop which are currently used as storage, all of which will be leased hereafter.
The whole family, many of whom still work at the store, feel sad about the closure but in the end Clive could not decline the sizeable offer that was put in front of him.
He explained: “We got an agent in to value how much rent we could get and it turned out to be an awful lot of money.
“He was telling me he could get this high figure.
“I was on a yacht in the south of France when I agreed his terms and put it on the market.
“The next day my daughter text me saying we had five people interested in it.
“Within two weeks I had them fighting over it and the people that have got it have paid me over the asking price.”
Clive insists that the closure is not down to a lack of funds and that had the offer not been made the business would still be trading and in a healthy state.
He said: “We could have carried on but I’m not getting any younger, I’m 60 this year and so is my wife.
“We’re working six days a week and we open Sundays.
“All of a sudden I think, you know what, it’s me time.”
The shop is close to the hearts of everyone in the family.
He added: “My parents are a little bit sad because they started it but they understand that it’s the right decision.”
As for the last day of Gerrys history, Clive admits it will be a strange feeling but is looking forward to enjoying time with his family.
He said: “I’m going to finish at 6 o’clock and then all my immediate family will come with me up to Kensington for a nice meal to celebrate the last day of trading and the first day of our retirement.”
Gerrys of Wimbledon closes its doors for the last time on February 27 and a furniture business is due to be renting the property from March.
Image courtesy of Gerrys of Wimbledon, with thanks