FASHIONS and times change, but one iconic clothes shop is still going strong after notching up fifty years of kitting out Doncaster’s stylish menfolk.
For menswear store Bradley Knipe has toasted its half century with a celebration party - and is now all set to take on a brand new look after moving premises.
The store, which has perched on the corner of Wood Street and Cleveland Street since 1962, is still in the hands of original owner Ron Bradley - but the business is on the move after taking up a new location on the High Street - a stone’s throw from the base which has helped dress generations of Doncaster men.
He said: “We’ve always provided a high quality service, and that’s what we’ll continue to do. The new shop will be just the same. We’ve been here so long that the shop on the corner has become synonymous with Bradley Knipe to the extent that people call it Bradley Knipe Corner!
“But times change and its time for a new chapter,” he added.
It is all a far cry from when Ron set up the business with his workmate John Knipe in the early sixties. The pair, who both worked for men’s outfitters Burton in Scunthorpe, began their shop dream in the town with £500 each from their parents - and quickly had to learn the ropes.
“We told Burton what our plans were and they sacked us on the spot,” said Ron, 77. “We were a bit naive at the time. Also, my first daughter Fiona was born at the same time as the shop opened so it was a bit of a worrying period for us all.”
But gradually, the shop took off and further branches followed in Retford and Doncaster - although only the Doncaster store remains to this day.
And the pair went their separate business ways too - Ron taking over the Doncaster shop with John looking after the Scunthorpe outlet.
“Down the years people have actually thought my full name was Bradley Knipe,” said Ron. “I still get calls asking for Bradley.”
Over the years, the shop, which once featured in an episode of classic BBC TV sitcom Open All Hours with errand boy Granville cycling furiously past on his bike, has changed its focus, from more of a traditional gents’ tailors to a men’s fashion store, stocking brands such as Stone Island, Hugo Boss, Paul and Shark and Lyle and Scott for a younger generation.
And the store has attracted a number of star names down the decades too.
“Lots of Doncaster Rovers players have been customers and we’ve had Kevin Keegan in too,” said Ron. “We also had a Saudi prince in once and a few other famous names.”
Ron, of Auckley, now takes less of a day to day role at the shop, leaving it in the capable hands of son Carl, 50, who himself has been a key fixture since the age of 16.
Carl said: “Things have really changed fashion wise. We’ve had all the punk and ska eras and other changing times and tailoring isn’t as popular as it once was. But I love the job and always have. I feel comfortable with it - its what I know.”
And Carl’s son Tom, 14, is also working in the shop on Saturday mornings - making it a third generation of the Bradley Knipe story.
Added Ron: “It will come as a bit of a wrench to leave, but at the same time, it is progress and we’re really happy with the new shop. Things will still be exactly the same service and quality wise.”