When 88-year-old Maureen Scott started going to Camerons Clothing, she was driving 33 miles to Timaru from Cannington.
It was 1959 – the same year the MV Holmglen sank near Timaru with the loss of all 15 crew, and the Auckland Harbor Bridge was opened.
Now, 63 years later, she and husband Andy, 94, are both ‘heartbroken’. The company has closed its outlets in Timaru (two), Waimate and Ōamaru after nearly 100 years in business.
The closure was sad news for the Scotts who started shopping at Camerons when their son was a baby, Maureen said.
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“I was a very young mum and the eldest of our seven boys, Barry, was 3½ years old.”
A regular customer at a baby store in the Royal Arcade, her son had begun to outgrow the clothes there.
“I liked to dress my children well,” she says.
“I thought ‘where do I go now?’ and Ida Andrews in the baby store suggested going to Camerons.’
She took his advice and thus began a long association with the store.
Her seven children were outfitted in Camerons’ clothes, she said.
“From that day until now, we have done our shopping there.
“We have never gone anywhere else to buy men’s clothing. We got it all from there and every year the family members got a Camerons voucher for their birthdays. ”
She also bought socks there every year, mailing them to one of her sons in Australia who worked in the mines.
She described the service at the store as “incredible”.
“We all knew them [the staff] and my daughter worked there for a while.”
Stock quality was always good, but she said that was because she always liked to “buy well and take care of things.”
She still irons everything now, she said.
She was sad about the stores closing and said she would never forget the kindness the staff had shown her over the years.
“They provided such good service.
“You could take things home approx. Dennis [staff member] was the hub of the business and was a wonderful woman and Warren [Park, co-director] was charming. I remember him when he started at Camerons.”
Camerons Clothing co-manager Warren Park said while he couldn’t say the Scotts had been shopping in stores the longest of all customers, they would be “up there”.
“I received a message this week from someone whose family has been with us for three generations.”
Park visited the couple on Wednesday and said it was nice to sit down with them and share memories.
“They’re lovely people, and they don’t know where they’re going to shop now.”
South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith said: ‘To see the closure of one of the district’s iconic stores is very sad, and our hearts go out to the entire Cameron team.
“Everyone is affected by a shutdown like this,” Smith said.
Smith said retail, hospitality, tourism and related industries have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic.
“This should be a constant reminder for all of us to support our local family businesses.”
She said it is likely there will be increased pressure in the future with inflation and the higher cost of living associated with it, as well as the lure of the new Showgrounds development.