One of the town’s longest established family businesses is pulling down the shutters this Friday after almost 65 years in the paint and wallpaper trade.
Andrews, in Union Street, survived the Troubles and the arrival of the DIY superstores, and built up a loyal customer base that included generations of the same families.
But having worked in the business all their lives, Ruth Castles (nee Andrews) and sister Susan McClune (nee Andrews) have decided that the time is right for them to retire and spend more time with their respective families.
Both began working in the shop as schoolgirls on Saturdays and in the summer holidays - with Susan joining the staff at 17 as a book-keeper (she has clocked up 42 years) and younger sister Ruth (41 years in the shop) joining straight out of school at 16, and finding her niche on the floor working and dealing with customers.
The shop was started in 1964-65 by their late dad Bobby and his late brother Billy, both well-known painters and decorators. It was based in High Street for less than five years before moving to Union Street.
Both Ruth and Susan remember their father, once the shop had closed for the day, trimming the wallpaper rolls, with the surplus at each side used as borders- the height of fashion then.
Somehow, Billy and Bobby also found the time to travel to countries, including Israel, on missionary work where they painted orphanages and schools, the paint shipped out in advance.
Down the years, the sisters say, the shop became a “meeting place and drop-in centre” for their customers, who also became their friends.
Among those who have sent best wishes and cards is their first ever customer, Gertrude McShane.
And sales representative Arthur Grattan, who has dealt with Andrews for 35 years, was one of the people who popped in last week to say his farewells. He said. “I have had so much fun with the girls and the staff. It was a great place for socialising. It’s the end of an institution.”
While the decision to retire has been an emotional one, the sisters say they have had “40 years of great times we would like to thanks all our brilliant and very loyal customers who have been very supportive over the years”.
Customers and friends are all invited to call in for the farewell refreshments which will be availble all day on Friday.