Hardware hero

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Brian Glassey has spent the past 55 years enjoying working in retail.

Hardware salesman Brian Glassey has notched up 55 years and counting working with the same employer.

The 71-year-old, who works in the hardware department at Mitre 10 Mega Ashburton, celebrated his long service milestone last week shouting his colleagues chocolates.

“I enjoy it here, it’s a good place to work. Most customers are friendly and happy to have a yarn,” he said.

Brian has seen many changes in his industry over the years.

They have included a business move from East Street, to West Street, a new build, new name and big changes in product ordering, technology and customer contact.

Brian started work, at aged 16, with WH Collins & Co on December 9, 1966 after interviewing with then-boss Eric Morris. His first 40 hour pay packet was for £12.

He spent two years as “shop boy” and worked his way up to the sales floor.

Back then he did what was required whether it was sweeping floors or washing windows or serving customers.

He also delivered small parcels around town and got a bike allowance of of five shillings a week.

He admits to being a “nervous sort of little bugger” in the early days.

Goods were sourced direct from suppliers and he remembers large steel crates arriving annually from overseas with imported goods such as china and tools.

It was also a time when there were more hand tools than power tools and sales dockets were handwritten not computerised.

Mr Glassey learned sales techniques from the likes of past staff Reggie Welch, George Penman, Charlie Olds and Gordon Robinson.

“I didn’t want to be a builder (like his dad, the late-Jim Glassey). I thought “nah, that’s not me,”” Brian said.

“I thought retail’s all right, I’ll give that a go.

“I’ve enjoyed it … (it’s) why I’m still here doing what I do today.”

In the past you got to know customers better as the process involved handwriting invoices and dealing with the purchases, he said.

Changes over time had made the process faster, but more computerised.

There were also many different faces in store now.

“We are selling to the next generation now, and even the next again,” he said of the store’s customers.

Brian Glassey met visiting musician Dave Dobbyn in store five years ago when he celebrated his 50 year milestone and wore his late-1970s uniform.

When the Collins store moved from East Street (next to where Paper Plus is now) to its original West Street site in 1987 people questioned the move with limited foot traffic, Brian said.

The site, known as the blue store, was Collins former timber yard site and was now one of the busiest shopping complexes in town.

The blue store was just a quarter of the size of the current Mitre 10 Mega and had the drive through attached to it.

While the new store was built, Mitre 10 continued to operate in an area the size of the garden department, Brian said.

Over the years he has worked in hardware or fastenings as it was known, housewares and garden departments and was head of the hardware department for around 20 years.

For the past five years Brian has reduced his hours and is working three days a week.

He enjoys the interaction with customers and it fits in with his lifestyle in Dahlia and Chrysanthemum flower circles and as a chicken breeder; he was one of the stars in the Kiwi documentary Pecking Order in 2017 and is regularly still remembered on the shop floor by movie buffs.

Poultry man, and Pecking Order doco star, Brian Glassey.