“I DON’T know what we’re going to do without you!” a woman said at the till of Churchtown Stores last week.
After over 30 years in business, the landmark hardware store owned by the Flood brothers is closing down this January.
A haven of all things hardware, the Braemore Road shop is bursting with anything and everything, and if it’s not there, they’ll make sure they get it for you.
The brothers, Kieran, Fehan and Barry Flood, who are originally from Westmeath, know many of their customers by name and have loyal patrons who have been returning to them for years.
“We’re very disappointed that we have to close it down,” Kieran says.
“We have sold it and we had no difficulties selling it. We tried to sell it as a going concern, but we are very pleased with who purchased it.”
The brothers opened up shop on the last day of February in 1988, a leap year, after running a hardware and electrical shop in London for 25 years previously.
In all that time, Kieran says they never advertised Churchtown Stores, even in local newspapers – simply because they never needed to.
“I don’t like to say that, and I always apologise when I say it to people looking for adverts. I feel bad saying it because it’s like tempting fate.”
Kieran equates their success with the simplicity of their mantra and their dedication to customer service.
“We have a very simple motto – we just respond to the market.”
The brothers have built a reputation on their dedication to finding whatever it is that their customers need.
“So what people want, if it’s reasonably within our sphere, we will get it. It’s as simple as that.
“If we say we’ll do something for a customer, whether it’s deliver something, whether it’s repair something, whether it’s get something in – we’ll either do it or tell them we can’t.”
And it’s obvious that they will be missed. The store is constantly packed and locals from all over Churchtown, Dundrum, Ballinteer and beyond have been paying tributes to the iconic local store, the like of which will be hard to come by again.
A post of Facebook page Ballinteer Today announcing the closure gained hundreds of comments from saddened punters.
“Fabulous shop. Aladdin’s cave. It will be missed. Not just for the all the items but the knowledge of the staff,” one comment read.
Comments from others read: “End of an era. Fantastic shop with extremely knowledgeable staff who would do anything for you. We always referred to it as Bill and Ben’s.”
“Best shop in for stuff other hardware stores don’t have, it’ll be missed.”
“A really great shop, a big part of Churchtown, could always get what you needed there. It will be sadly missed.”
With no fancy tills or computers, things are still done the old-fashioned way here and refreshingly, they never push sales or upsell.
“We never have to push a sale, never – and we wouldn’t. When I interview the staff I would tell them not to push sales,” Kieran says.
“We never decided what the customer wants, we responded to what they want, and we advise them.
“That was our way all along, even if somebody was buying something that was actually too good for the job they’re doing I would always offer them the cheaper option.
“Some people prefer the more expensive option but most people are very appreciative of that.”
With a closing down date set for January 31, Kieran says that he and his brothers are preparing to retire.
“I probably won’t do anything, but I’ll take it easy.”