David McCandless retires, but son to open new drapery shop
Ireland in 1973 was a country in transition: Erskine Childers replaced Éamon de Valera as President of Ireland; the country finally became a member of the EEC, the Civil Service ended its ‘marriage bar’ on women; and for businesses and shoppers alike, the recent switch to a decimal currency – which replaced pounds, shillings and pence – was still an everyday talking-point.
One Carndonagh man who quickly had to get the hang of the new-fangled decimal currency was David McCandless. The Carn man set up in the drapery business in 1973, opening The Mans Shop at the Diamond. Four years later the shop was renamed Marks Menswear. Forty-one years on from the day he opened the doors for the first time, David is closing down what is one of the best known businesses in Inishowen and he spoke to the Inishowen Independent this week about the closure and his plans for the future.
“I remember well the day I opened – it was a Monday morning. I had a carpet in the shop; indeed The Mans Shop was the first store in Carn to have carpet. An old farmer came in with the muck dripping of his Wellington boots. He said to me, ‘You probably don’t want me in here with dirty feet.’ I laughed and told him the dirtier that carpet got the better!’”
David re-branded in 1977 as Marks Menswear, but for many north Inishowen folk the original name stuck. David chuckles that even recently a local teenager referred to the business as The Mans Shop. Hard work and persistence saw David through the lean 1980s – he remarks that the recession then was every bit as bad as the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. He feels that he survived by providing his customers with the personal service they sought. Unfortunately, many of the businesses that made up Carn’s commercial centre in those days are long gone: “In my own trade, drapery, there was four shops then – sadly they’re all gone now!”
The good news, however, is that although David is winding down his business over the next month – he plans to close the shop in late-July/mid-summer – his son Bryan will be opening a modern new store Mark 2 Menswear in Carndonagh in a few week’s time. The new shop is planned for the busy SuperValu premises in the town.
David McCandless is delighted that the family will continue their five decade long association with the drapery business in Carn. For now his focus is on meeting his many customers while selling out his stock over the next month or so and he is already looking forward to his retirement.
He plans to keep an eye on his other business in Derry – CityMan – but pointing to a photograph featuring himself and two of his grandchildren, he smiles and says: “It’s time to slow down and smell the roses!”