No more time for rag trade

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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.’’

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/FAIRFAX NZ

Barbara and Brian Gaskin are call­ing it quits on a city in­sti­tu­tion. Their fab­ric busi­ness is about to pass into re­tail his­tory.

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