End of era for denim duo

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By Mick Jensen

Donald and Sharon McQuarters, who established Ashburton’s first dedicated jeans shop in 1976, are bowing out of fashion retail after almost 42 years of trading.

The couple set up Denim Den Clothing Company on Tancred Street after spotting similar shops starting up in Christchurch.

The 20-somethings took on a small loan, fitted out changing rooms and counters themselves and decided “to give it a go”.

Amco was the big brand at the time, with Bull Denim for men and Amco Peaches for women, said Donald McQuarters.

Jeans were becoming a big part of the Kiwi wardrobe when they set up shop and there was no other jeans specialist in Ashburton at the time.

“It was hard work and tough building up the business in the early years, but we worked together as a team and shared the roles,” he said.

Denim Den moved into the Ashburton Arcade in 1982 and 12 years later the couple established a second retail arm, Chicago Joes.

Denim Den was more fashion orientated, while Chicago Joes focused on street surf, said Donald McQuarters.

With a busy workload, the fashion retailers opted to sell Denim Den in 2001 in order to concentrate on one business.

Donald took on buying and book work duties, while Sharon has been the face of the shop and behind the counter.

Some 23 years on, the McQuarters have now decided that retirement beckons and have sold Chicago Joes.

The business has been bought by former employee Emma Todd and her husband.

Fashion retail has been a good life, says Donald McQuarters.

“The Ashburton public has supported us well over the years and we’ve had some great staff. We’ll both miss the regular contact with customers, but now is the right time to bow out.”

The world of fashion retail today was very different from 42 years ago, said Donald, and “it needed a younger generation” to drive it forward.

Donald and Sharon Mcquarters are still getting their heads around retirement and have no definite future plans, other than spending more time with family.