'It has been really quite humbling' - shop owners stunned by response to retirement bombshell
PUBLISHED: 14:20 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:27 03 January 2019
For shoppers in Great Yarmouth it has been the last word in everything ethnic for decades, keeping their cupboards stocked with incense and worry dolls since 1982.
Now the enterprising couple from Bizarre Bizarre are bowing out of Regent Street to step into retirement and plan their first holiday together for more than 20 years.
Beverley and Marty Rice have cut their opening hours ahead of their last day in May – and say they have been overwhelmed by the many hundreds of messages wishing them well and lamenting the end of a retail era.
Mrs Rice, 63, said one woman had burst into tears and others had pledged to stage a sit in.
She said: “We just want to thank all our staff and customers who have been so good to us over the years.
“It has been really lovely. All the lovely things that have been said about the shop has been lovely and quite difficult to read.
“We have had a lot of people coming in and saying they will be sad to see us go.
“It has been really quite humbling.”
The couple met on Yarmouth market where Mr Rice, 69, was already trading and Mrs Rice was working for her father.
Their marriage in 1976 saw the coming together of two retail families behind Martyn’s the walk-round store in Regent Road, where Mr Rice started with his own counter – and Tracey Fashions which at its height had 14 shops.
They opened their first shop Pandora’s Box in Deneside in 1982, seizing a gap in the marked for ethnic products in a town crowded with gift and souvenir shops.
Things went well until 1991 when the recession forced them to close, reopening the following year in Victoria Arcade.
They then moved 22 years ago to their present address, which was formerly a shoe shop.
Although the town had changed and trade had fallen off in the last few years they still had a loyal customer base, many of whom were regulars on first-name terms with the owners.
Incense and worry dolls were some of the items they had continually stocked over the years, with silver jewellery doing well also.
The couple hope to holiday together and spend more time with their grown-up children in London during their retirement.