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End of an era as Trotters prepares to close.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

End of an era as Trotters prepares to close. thumbnail Sammy and Andrew Trotter outside their Lower Scotch Street premises.

MANY things have changed in the past 58 years, but one thing has remained constant - Trotters presence on Scotch Street.

Since 1959 Samuel Trotter has provided the residents of Dungannon and District with a solution for all their general hardware needs.

He started the business from humble beginnings.

Working as a shop boy in Armagh, Sammy decided that he wanted more and decided to take the risk and start his own business.

In 1959 he took a loan from the bank to start the business. He needed his brother and his aunt to sign as security for the loan and the first stock he bought came from Belfast.

"I brought the first stock I bought home from Belfast in an A30 car. It was general hardware goods and there wasn't that much, but I brought it home and started to bring it into the shop," recalls Sammy.

"The mart was on at the time and Andy Fleming bought some potato baskets off me for 7 and 6 pence each. I was selling stock before I even had it in the store, I was delighted." In these early days, all the profits were reinvested in further stock with the iconic premises initially rented from Henry Sinnamon at a cost of 5 a week.

Hard work and dedication saw the business grow from strength to strength and in 1970 Sammy bought his own premises.

Over the years, Sammy never received a cross letter from the bank, nor wrote a cheque that bounced and he remains a pillar of integrity and respect in Dungannon.

Having established a successful business, Sammy also had the honour of providing employment for his son Andrew as well.

Andrew started in the business, part-time, at the age of 12 before joining the staff full time when he turned 17.

Now in charge of the business, Andrew recounts many good times spent in the shop serving his customers.

"Many of the customers we have coming through our doors are recurring customers and we know what they want and how we can help them," says Andrew.

"We are a close-knit community and it is one of the things I will miss the most. The thought of not seeing our customers on a daily or weekly basis for a good chat is not a pleasant one.

Not only will Andrew and Sammy miss their customers, they will also miss their loyal staff.

"We have had some fantastic staff here over the years," said Andrew. Most of them tend to stay with us for a long time like Sharon Knox, Pamela Kidd, Noeleen Meneely, Robert Moore, Tom McMenemy and Stafford Greenaway. Stafford was with us for 11 years before starting his own business.

"I think the reason people have stayed with us is that we only have one position in this business and that is that everyone does everything.

"We have also been blessed throughout the years to be located here, in such a great part of town surrounded by great people and businesses including PJ Quinn's, Dynes, McClure, McKees and of course the Sinnamons.

"During the Troubles we were attacked a few times but every time we were the whole community rallied round us and every time we were able to come back stronger than ever.

"There was one particular attack on a Friday night and we were not allowed back into the shop until the Sunday but we were open and trading by the Wednesday thanks to those around us. Especially Mrs K. Smith who brought us trays full of tea and sandwiches to keep us going This has been a really great area and we will miss it.

As talks turns to the reason for shutting shop Andrew reveals a long held ambition to retire early and a desire to do so on his own terms.

"From I have started in here I have always had the idea of retiring at 55 and when the opportunity arose to do it now, we decided to take it.

"A lot of businesses like this have been forced to shut over the last number of years but we have the opportunity to go out when we chose to. We will still own the building and it is my hope that it can become the premises of another local retailer."

 

Trotters closing down sale will start on Thursday (21st September) and Andrew expects the store to remain open until after Christmas.

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