Back in business! Hardware shop on Ipswich estate reopens a year after huge fire
- Credit: RACHEL EDGE
A popular hardware shop on an Ipswich estate has reopened - more than a year after closing as the result of a devastating fire.
Manager Melvin Robinson is delighted to be serving his customers once again at the shop in Garrick Way, which was previously Richardson's Hardware but is now Victory Mica Hardware and DIY.
Mr Robinson said: "I'm very pleased. It is exciting to be back in the shop, but also quite strange at the same time. The shop has changed slightly - it looks a bit more clear and open than it did before, and people can see the stock easily.
"I am getting very nice comments from the customers - people are coming in and saying they are glad to see me back. We want to start to build things up again."
Mr Robinson was previously the owner of the shop on the town's Whitton estate, but is now the manager after selling the building. He had considered retiring, but was tempted back.
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He said: "The new owner, Fevzi Hurum, said there was still a need for a hardware store here, and asked me to manage it." After 27 years in the job, Mr Robinson couldn't resist returning and serving his customers again.
The huge fire, in July last year, saw shops and homes evacuated after thick black smoke billowed from the rear of the store and a number of gas canisters exploded.
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Mr Robinson said: "It was started by a very small grass fire, that burned up into a major fire." He said the tinder-dry conditions after a long hot spell had made it easy for the fire to spread.
"Some new garages were burnt down, and everything in the garages was gone, and there was damage on both sides of the shop. It was such a shame."
It took 13 months to rebuild and refit the shop out following the fire damage. The garages have been rebuilt, and the store room and flat roofs replaced, and the shop itself also had to be completely redone out. "A lot of stock was smoke-damaged and had to be chucked away," Mr Robinson said.
He praised the fire service for their response and said: "Fortunately, no-one was hurt. That's the main thing."
Customer Tracey Dockery, a member of the North West Ipswich Big Local Trust, said: "We are absolutely thrilled the shop is open again, because it really was a big loss for the community. It's really good to see them back up and running.
"It's not just what they sell. Melvin is so knowledgeable - you can go to him and say, 'I need a thingamabob for my whatsit', and he will know exactly what you mean."
The shop's winter opening hours are from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday.