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Published 10 months ago 23rd October 2021 by Jamie O’Flaherty

A local shop in Clonmel is set to close its doors after 52 years. Bates Foodstore has served the local community for over half a century with proprietor Sean in the business for over 40 years.

On Saturday (October 23) Sean and his wife Bernie are set to retire and will trade their till for some well-earned rest and relaxation.

With no immediate plans in place, the couple intend to enjoy some time off and bid farewell to customers young and old this week, leading to an outpouring of well wishes from locals, many of whom arrived with gifts and cards.
Sean and Bernie said: “The customers are the best. We have a huge variety of customers of all types, young and old. Meeting them every day has been the most enjoyable part of the job. We have been so lucky to have had such great customers. That’s what drives you and keeps you going.”

Sean first entered the business working for his mother Anne (Nan) Bates over 40 years ago, before taking over the reigns. ‘Nan’ first started the business from a room in her house on the Heywood Road before employing Paddy Quinlivan to build the current premises. Her husband Larry was a mechanic by trade and worked alongside Bernie’s father Billy Byrne in Bulmers.

“It’s been a very enjoyable business, a very exciting business but it’s changed over the years and the time is right now to retire from it,” said Sean.
“The last few years have been harder but myself and Bernie enjoyed every minute of it.”
Over the years Bates Foodstore has employed dozens of local people, including students who were always grateful for the opportunity to earn a few euros at weekends or on school holidays. Sean and Bernie’s children, Gillian, Laura and John were among them, displaying the wonderful friendly manner in which the Bates family greeted all of their customers.

“It was an absolute pleasure to work with so many young people over the years,” said Bernie. “We have seen them grow up into fine adults and they all still come in to see us now. We were very lucky to have such dedicated staff members over the years and I would like to thank them all. They made coming into work much easier for myself and Sean.” After decades in the business, Sean said the “saddest thing” is that local shops are disappearing.
He said it’s getting more and more difficult to compete with the ‘giants’ but emphasised the importance a local shopkeeper has in the community.

“You just can’t beat the interaction with customers and talking to them for a few minutes. “That’s what I’ll miss the most,” said Sean.

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