The 'end of an era' as iconic Sheffield shop Harringtons closes its doors

Who doesn't remember the shop that was Harringtons?

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 10th October 2017, 8:47 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:12 am
Brian Harrington at his stall in the Castle Market
Brian Harrington at his stall in the Castle Market

It was located in an area of Sheffield that was smart and upmarket and was the predecessor of Meadowhall Shopping centre, but now it is to go.

It is the end of an era and many people will remember Harringtons for its crazy sales bargains and the fact that it was part of the fabric of Sheffield.

Clayton: Harringtons Shop, Castle Market

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For more than 40 years Harringtons served the good people of the city from its legendary stall on Castle Market, before relocating to Doncaster in 2006.

And, after more than 50 years in business in the region, the Harringtons shop has now shut its doors for good.

“It’s the end of an era,” confirmed owner Brian Harrington with a shake of his head.

“I joined my dad, David, in the business in 1969 and I’ve been selling ever since; it’s what I do. I had dreams of being a musician or a footballer, but once my dad gave me a chance, I never looked back.

Brian Harrington at his stall in the Castle Market

"I was a salesman – and a damn good one! People have told me I could take the money out of their purse while their purse was still in their handbag!

“It’s not going to be easy, closing Harringtons, but my wife and I are keen to spend more time with our family now and focus on the grandchildren.”

Harringtons gained a cult following in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, with their famous giveaways, distinctly humourous brand of advertising and their line of made-to-measure shirts.

And not forgetting the now infamous communal changing room. “You had to climb up a ladder to the stock room if you wanted to try anything on,” Brian laughs.

Clayton: Harringtons Shop, Castle Market

Brian Harrington, Castle Market “We had a couple of 30ft benches made and people just slipped in there, found a space on the bench and tried on what they wanted.

“Pete McKee, who was one of our favourite customers, painted it for us. “We were taking unbelievable amounts of money at that time and we’d have people queueing on a weekend just to get into our giant 100ft stall.

“We had 50 employees at the height of the business and Castle Market at that time was the Meadowhall of its day; modern and upmarket. Harringtons

“The flow of people it got through on an average day was the kind of footfall most shopping centres only dream about.

Brian Harrington at his stall in the Castle Market

“We had a knack for getting the right lines in at the right times and we monopolised on it by running all kinds of crazy deals, like a free watch or pair of sunglasses with every purchase. The cheap digital watch would probably only last a couple of days and the sunglasses might be a giveaway in the middle of winter, but people couldn’t get enough.

“Suddenly there were all these people wearing cool sunglasses in Sheffield city centre in the middle of December.

“We once ran an advert in The Star which told customers they could get ten per cent off their purchases if they brought the advert in that Saturday and that we’d throw in a free Levi T-shirt if they showed up in a crazy wig.

“I got a phonecall at 7am that Saturday from Castle Market security saying there were 500 people queueing up outside the market, wearing a variety of crazy wigs and moustaches and that I needed to get down there pronto!

“The crazy thing is that all those mods and skinheads I was serving decades ago, when they were students and barmen, still come to shop with me and they’re all solicitors and teachers now!”

It was the opening of the out of city retail centre Meadowhall in 1990 that sealed Harringtons’ fate in Sheffield, causing them to relocate to Doncaster from their home town.

“Our business dropped 90 per cent from day one,” says Brian, aged 63.

“The city centre never recovered and we had to leave. “It was a sad day, but Doncaster gave us the second chance we needed and many of our loyal Sheffield customers continued to make the journey over to shop with us.

“The weekend was our last and we said if anyone was in the area please pop in and say hello and have a piece of cake with us; we’d love to see you, shake your hand, and say goodbye.”