INSTITUTION OF THE TOWN
PIKE’S IS AN INSTITUTION IN PORTHMADOG
A NEWSAGENT whose former customers include i David Lloyd George and the King of Albania has marked an incredible 115 years in business.
Started up by professional cricketer William l Pike in 1902, Pike’s in Porthmadog has been going strong ever since and is now run by his great granddaughter Meryl Pike.
Meryl Pike, 58, said the secret to their ongoing o success has been the way they have h treated their customers. She said: “It is the personal things, we take an interest in the lives of our customers, we know when people have not been well or have had a baby. People also come here for the social side, the banter.
“We have also always looked at what is missing from other shops in town and adapted, selling things like fishing equipment, jigsaws, cards and smoking pipes. This has served us well for 115 years and I have no plans for retirement.”
William Pike, originally from Nottinghamshire, arrived in the Gwynedd town as a professional crick- eter, playing for Porthmadog Cricket Club – and it was the club members who encouraged William to open his own shop, which he developed as a tobacconist and newsagents.
William was a well-known character in the town and continued playing cricket until the age of 65. He worked in the shop until May 1951 when he passed away at the age of 80.
William’s son Noel started helping in the shop in 1911 at the age of 10, getting up in time to deliver the newspapers at 6am.
He joined the business full time at 14 and he also developed his own hairdressing business at the rear of the shop.
This was the period when the shop and hair salon was visited by a number of well known patrons.
Former Prime Minister David Lloyd George came down from his nearby home village of Llanystumdwy, while the Duke of Edinburgh visited over his time served during the Second World War with HMS Glendower at Pwllheli.
Noel was also asked to cut the hair of the King of Albania who was staying at the Portmeirion Hotel.
He served the public for over 75 years as a hairdresser and a newsagent and, even when he was in his nineties, used to spend three hours a day in the shop helping his son Bill and granddaughter Meryl.
Noel reckoned to have sold millions of copies of our sister paper the Daily Post from the days when it was selling for a penny, and the Liverpool Echo for a halfpenny.
Bill Pike, Noel’s son, joined the business in 1949, working full-time from 1952, following two years National Service in the Royal Air Force.
He also developed a successful wholesaling business, selling tobacco and cigarettes to small shops and public houses in the area.
Bill was involved with the local community, a president and trustee of Porthmadog Football Club and associated with the town’s Cricket Club, Golf Club and Bowling Club.
Meryl added: “Pike’s became a popular gathering place for many local customers who enjoyed the early morning debates instigated by my dad, who held firm opinions on both local and national issues.”
He worked in the business until May 2007, when he passed away suddenly at the age of 74 after serving the public for more than half a century. Bill’s daughter Meryl first started working in the shop at the age of 12 during school holidays.
She joined full-time in 1990 after leaving a banking career to become a partner with her father in the business.
Following Bill’s death, Meryl’s husband, David Williams, became her partner in the business and now David’s daughters, Saran and Cain, also work part-time in the shop, along with five other members of staff – Nerys, Angie, Helen, John and Manon.
Pike’s continues to be a traditional tobacconist and newsagents and a recent survey showed that a large percentage of its regular customers have been supporting the business for more than 30 years – some for 75 years. Since 2015 Pike’s have been involved with the Independent Achievers Academy awards for independent retailers.
In 2015 the shop was named as one of the Top 100 independent retailers in the UK and Ireland. This year Pike’s is a finalist in two categories – Effective Ranging and Service to the Community.
In order to celebrate Pike’s 115th birthday Meryl and David decided to donate £115 to a different charity each month throughout 2017.
● David and Meryl Pike Williams at Pike’s. Inset right: Meryl with her father Bill and, top, Meryl’s grandfather Noel outside the shop