No more time for rag trade
Gaskin Fabrics has played a leading role in Manawatu’s material world for almost seven decades.
After 50 odd years in the rag trade, and 33 years in business with wife Barbara, Bryan Gaskin is ‘bolting’ the doors of his fabric shop and embracing retirement.
The business founded in Feilding by Bryan’s parents Godfrey and Joan in 1947, moved to the city’s Main St in 1983 when Bryan and Barbara bought them out.
‘‘Brian Elwood [city mayor] said this was the place to be because of its proximity to the Convention Centre. He said blokes would go to the conferences and the women would go shopping,’’ Bryan Gaskin said.
The block of Main St shops is still owned by the city council, and the Gaskins opened in what is now a sushi shop, later expanding into the next door premises.
They moved along the row to the present shop with its bigger mezzanine area in 1991.
‘‘We weren’t considered real retailers because we weren’t on Broadway, but Brian [Elwood] was dead right.’’
Gaskin said his mother was ahead of her time for post-war New Zealand as a registered business owner with her husband.
However, his father was not pleased when Gaskin decided he wanted to continue in the trade.
‘‘He was mortified. He’d never had a secondary education and wanted something better for me, but it was in the blood.’’
His background and 20 years in the drapery department of city department store Collinson & Cunninghame prepared Gaskin for his own business where he applied his father’s meticulous approach, coupled with high quality department store values.
The 71 year-old decided to call it quits for a number of reasons.
He and Barbara were missing out on their Wellington grandchildren, and when longtime employee Marie Briggs left for health reasons, they found them- selves working six days a week, while hefting heavy bolts of cloth was not getting any easier.
‘‘Also, I’m not big on modern trends. Everything online puts it into the too hard basket for me.’’
Having said that, he recently designed and dressed a wedding in London, and has customers all over New Zealand.
‘‘So, there are a lot of farewells. I’m among the last of my kind in the country, and this is an end of the line for a whole way of doing things.’’
Barbara and Brian Gaskin are calling it quits on a city institution. Their fabric business is about to pass into retail history.