Until recently, John Richmond had been working on Fleetwood Market since the 1940s, when as a youngster he helped out at the glove stall run by his dad Sidney.
Incredibly, John’s direct involvement with the popular market – recently voted the third most popular in the UK – stretches back to almost 80 years.
Sidney had come to the Fylde coast from the East End of London where he had been running his glove stall on a busy market – until the wartime blitz brought the family up north.
It was in 1971, aged 35, that John took over the stall from his dad.
Later he added a wide range of stylish hats – English trilbies, hombergs (like Sir Winston Chuchill’s) and even bowlers and top hats – to his stock, along with fine examples of cloth, handkerchiefs and other items.
That’s when the stall, known as Richmonds’ – added the name ‘the Mad Hatter’ to its title.
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John says he has loved his time on the market and admits he was reluctant to stand down.
The father-of three and grandfather, who lives in North Shore, said: “If it wasn’t for my age and my health, I’d still be doing it.
"I was always an old school trader and I only took cash – it suited me and it wasn’t complicated.
"Looking back I probably should have got into cards and I probably ended up losing money because of it, but the stall kept going for nearly 80 years so it wasn’t doing too badly!”
How were the old days different?
John said: “These days people don’t talk to the customer so much.
"I have always done a lot of banter, it was a big part of it.
"They would be interested in a hat, say, or a pair of gloves and I would tell them the history of the article.
"I would always have a conversation with the customer and that’s why people would come to see me.
"They’d have a chat and sometimes they would buy a hat.
"Today, everyone’s on their mobile phones all the time, sometimes they never even look up!”
Hats and gloves from England
John says: “I always looked to sell English stuff, quality articles across the range – hat sizes from a midget to an elephant and gloves sizes from banana fingers to very small!
"That way you were covered.
"I think it’s tougher in business thee days, there are a lot more rules and regulations for business people.”
On Saturday the stall was finally taken down and packed away, a poignant end after such a long time.
But John is close to his three children – David, Angela an Simon – and his three grandchildren, so in retirement he will have extra time to see them all.