FLEET'S longest running one-man business, Graeme's of Fleet, is finally calling it a day and not "opening all hours".
Shop owner Graeme Pullen first started his furniture business 34 years ago and his shop became a local landmark, as it was situated opposite the entrance to Fleet Station in Fleet Road.
He started while he was still at Courtmoor Secondary School, opening the shop at 4pm and doing his homework while he waited for customers.
"I still recall the first sale," said Graeme. "It was a 1950's radio that sold for the princely sum of ten shillings (50p to those under 40).
"I started with second-hand furniture and worked the proverbial seven days a week, quickly learning how to move anything on my own from double wardrobes to pianos.
"It was nothing to work from 8am to 6pm and then go out either delivering or collecting until 10pm at night. I have to smile at the oft-mentioned 35-hour week, as I regularly worked 80 hours, and I rarely asked anyone to give me a hand.
"Eventually I took over the old Station Café next door and moved up market to sell reproduction furniture and mirrors. It was in my early twenties that I ventured into photojournalism and found myself travelling the world on various features.
"The shop takings suffered, but then a commission in the Bahamas did have something over three double wardrobes to deliver in a December snowstorm.
"The most time I had away was 21 weeks in one year when I was 30, but somehow I managed to hang on to the business, although I vividly remember my personal record worst takings. That was £5 in an entire week in July, but then I had some good weeks as well. My local record was beaten by a tackle shop that recently took 95 pence in a week."
Graeme has had regular customers that have suddenly turned up after 15 years, wanting to match up a piece of furniture they bought way back then.
He also progressed into other properties and when he finally closes the door at the end of February he will be concentrating on his journalism and property business. Over the next two weeks he is offering 25% discount on all his furniture, garden ornaments and mirrors, plus free local delivery.
"I've already got the next fishing trip planned," he said, "so get in quick if you want a last minute bargain."
You can call him on 01252 615360, or drop in at 20, Fleet Road, right opposite Fleet Station. Doors close at the end of February.