Dunedin business woman packs bags after 37 years in retail

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Trents Leather Goods owner Sue Brown is moving on after operating the shop for nearly 40 years in Dunedin.

Trents Leather Goods owner Sue Brown is calling time on a nearly 40-year career in Dunedin tomorrow.

Earlier this month, Ms Brown celebrated 37 years of retail in George St, selling items including briefcases, backpacks, handbags, luggage, purses, satchels and wallets.

She loved her business – especially “the people and the challenge” – but it was time for a “new adventure” which would include spending more time with her five grandchildren, family and friends and spending more days skiing and tramping.

Born and raised in Dunedin, she was living in Australia, aged 26, when her father Neville Brown rang her about a business opportunity back home.

Her grandfather Clifford Brown and father owned two shops in Stuart St – a motorbike and bicycle shop Browns for Bikes, and bag shop Bon Voyage.

The business opportunity back home was to buy Trents Leather Goods at 365 George St – opposite The Robbie Burns Pub – as a going concern.

Her father loaned her the money to buy it in January 1983.

“Within the first year I’d paid him back by working every day.”

The business was located in a shop a block north of its existing location at 206 George St.

The block the original shop was located in was known as “Edinburgh Way” and people would travel there to shop.

“It was a destination block.”

About 21 years ago, when eateries began opening in the block, she moved the business a block south to its existing site.

The new shop was in the “Golden Block” had more foot traffic and “impulse” buyers.

Her product range had changed over time.

Once upon a time it was common for businesses to buy their staff a leather briefcase for Christmas.

Back then most of the goods were made in New Zealand. Now most of it was imported.

“Things have changed and I’ve had to move with it.”

Her business mantra was to focus on her own business, rather than worrying about what her competitors were doing.

A nice part of the business was giving “naive” students their first job and “watching them grow to fabulous worldly girls” during the years they worked for her.

“I thought of them like my daughters – we’ve had some really lovely people work for us.”

She had sold the business as a going concern to a local family.