It's the end of an era as Ruthin's Steptoe's second hand shop is to close

Reporter:

Elwyn Roberts

BUSINESSMAN Idris Evans is closing the Steptoe’s second hand shop in Ruthin at the end of the month – but he’s so busy it is hardly a retirement.

After 30 years of buying and selling in Wynnstay Road he says it is now time to close.

But apart from selling second hand goods and antiques, Idris is also busy as an author, raconteur, entertainer and broadcaster.

But it is the end of an era for Steptoe’s.

The second hand market has changed a lot in recent years – mainly due to the Internet, he says.

Young people are not interested in antiques and old items any more, and less people are visiting all town centres as they shop on line.

It’s important to know when to stop, he says.

But the closure of the popular shop where banter amid trading is the order of the day will also give him time to concentrate on his many other activities.

He is out public speaking three or four times a week and has six different topics – The cattle drovers, the men who walked animals three hundred miles; memories of a bygone era, a humorous recollection of life of a Welsh farm with candles for lights and no amenities; wise words and country ways, some of the funny sayings of country folk; treasures of the most sacred river in Europe – the River Dee; The last prince of Wales,

Owain Glyndwr who went from prince to pauper in 16 years: Saints and Sinners, characters who became famous because of who they were, and collecting collectables, an insight into collecting items from the past.

The author of two books, he hopes to have time to pen a few more.

And he will also be able to devote more time to the restoration of vintage vehicles – and will concentrate on his new passion, the restoration of historic children’s vehicles.

Idris, who lives in Llangollen, is also hugely interested in local history and will continue to research various topics including his search for more information about the now extinct ci coch (the Welsh red dog)

He says he has loved every minute of running the shop, where he also bought and sold gold and acted as a pawn broker, the only Welsh speaking broker in the region.

“I always looked forward to going to work every morning,” he said.

“But I think 30 years is enough.

“Things have changed and it is important to know when to finish.”

Antique items used to be exported from Wales to America, he explained, but that trade had slowed down dramatically.

He was recently approached by a family who had a splendid Llanrwst dresser.

It had been in the family for hundreds of years, it had been offered to be the daughter but she did not want it. A few years ago it could have been sold for £10,000 but today it would be nearer £500.

When he opened the shop in the 1980s, television's Steptoe and Son was still fondly remembered.

At one stage, he even had a model horse and cart outside the shop which created a lot of interest.

He would get his stock from all over North Wales and the North West, often from house clearances.

But that business had now changed and people sold items themselves on the internet and called people like him to clear up what was left – often the rubbish as far as selling on was concerned.

He had found a few treasures over the years – including a small painting which he bought as a job lot in a house clearance which he was able to sell for a good profit.

“I have been very successful over the years and its things like that, that keep you going.

“But things have changed a lot,” he explained.

Some antique items were still popular – particularly war memorabilia with the centenary celebrations, which had increased in value.

Television programmes on antiques were popular and had helped produce a number of items from people’s attics, but they had also raised the expectations of sellers too, he said.

Idris said that he had a lot of fun over the years – and still laughs about the wardrobe which he had to leave in a house in Bala after it was stuck for hours on the stairs.

“It was impossible to move it,” he said.

Closing the shop will also give him more time to follow his love of painting – and is proud of the reproduction master piece he painted which now hangs at Ruthin’s oldest house, Nantclwyd y Dre.

“I have met a lot of people, some real characters who come into the shop and I will miss them a lot.

“But I will still be coming to Ruthin to meet people,” he explained.

Idris also plans to continue to do commentaries at summer shows and vintage machinery demonstrations.

And he is busy singing and entertaining at parties and clubs and hotels with Geraint Woolford of Ruthin.

“I’m really too busy to retire,” he explained.

See full story in the Free Press

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