Customers of a neighbourhood hardware shop were in tears this week as they learned of the owners’ plans to retire.
March & Sons at Pound Hill Parade in Crawley has become a ‘hub of the community’ since Dave Huzzey and his wife Jill took over the business 25 years ago.
“It’s a community shop really,” said Dave, 68. “Since we announced we were retiring a few weeks ago we’ve been inundated by people saying how sorry they are that we are going.
“The love and the gratitude is unbelievable. We’ve been given so many cards and gifts.”
The shop stocks more than 12,000 hardware/DIY lines - “you name it, we do it” - and Dave was renowned for his customer service.
“We like to treat our customers the way we like to be treated ourselves.”
If a customer asked for something, Dave would always make a point of tracking it down and ordering it forthem.
One grateful customer - Alan Meeks, from Park Way - said: “It’s an amazing shop. You go in to buy something and you end up meeting people, having a chat and telling stories.”
He said saying farewell to Dave and Jill was “like losing a part of your arm.”
Shop-keeping is in the blood for Dave whose father and grandfather were also shopkeepers.
And over the years, Dave’s whole family - son, daughter and grandchildren, have all been involved in helping with the business.
In fact son Peter, 35, started as a Saturday boy at the shop and is now a partner in a fish and chip shop next door.
Dave said he and Jill were going to miss the shop and customers “terribly.” But, added Dave: “It’s time to go.”
He also paid tribute to long-standing staff member Carolyn Rose - who has worked there for more than 30 years. “We have great staff and Carolyn is always laughing and very good with the customers.”
Dave and Jill finally shut up shop for the last time on Friday, but it’s not quite goodbye yet.
The business is being taken over by Ben and Kelly Copeland, from Coulsdon, who plan to continue trading in hardware - and Dave and Jill will be on hand for a couple of weeks to see them settle in safely.
Meanwhile, they are looking forward to retirement with plans to travel more and sample new hobbies.