Terrace End’s ‘Mr Uniform’ calls time
When Barry Gillespie took over a small manchester shop in Main St 55 years ago, the Main Trunk Line still ran down the middle of the road.
‘‘There were probably three trains a day, and we had to shut the door when they went past.‘‘
Gillespie, now 82, has sold his iconic Terrace End shop, Gillespies Value House – wellknown to generations of Palmerston North schoolchildren and their parents. Gillespies was the town’s school uniform centre, and uniforms were a staple that kept customers coming back year after year.
Many of the children he fitted out over the decades now return as customers with children of their own.
In 1961, he remembered walking into the store to sell something, and ended up buying it.
‘‘I was a commercial traveller for AM Satterthwaite. I came in here with a bag of manchester, and an old fella like me was sitting here behind this counter and told me he didn’t want to buy anything because he was selling up.’’
Gillespie had only recently moved to Palmerston North from Christchurch to marry his sweetheart, Elizabeth. The couple had met during a Manawatu harriers meet. With Elizabeth’s blessing, he bought the shop, and has been there ever since.
Eventually, Gillespie bought the whole building.
For the past 36 years his loyal shop lieutenant has been Rae Harris.
Even after all this time, Harris still calls her boss ‘‘Mr Gillespie’’.
So, how did they put up with each other under the same shop roof for all those years?
‘‘I’m one of those people who when I decide on something, I stick with it,’’ she said.
‘‘Well, I’m really looking forward to my retirement,’’ Gillespie chuckled.
Harris would be staying on until March next year to help new owners Sally and Quentin Poole, of Terrace End’s Academy Apparel, come up to speed with the business.
‘‘We make school uniforms and Gillespies sells school uniforms. It was a good fit,’’ Sally Poole said.
She and her husband may make changes, but want to get a feel for the business first, and come to terms with their first school uniform season. For the time being, there will still be a Gillespies Value House.
Barry Gillespie reflects on 55 years behind the counter of Gillespies Value House.