Popular Coleraine jeweller bowing out after 40 years in business

David Martin.  INCR 36-758-CON
David Martin. INCR 36-758-CON

One of Coleraine’s long running and well known jewellers will close early next week following 40 years of business.

David Martin – who has owned his store since 1976 on Queen Street – has decided to retire on September 10 following four decades of trade in the town.

David, 68, started his career in selling jewellery when he was only 17 in Belfast, but he and his wife Pat moved to Coleraine by chance years later and have not looked back since.

Wanting to start his own business, David recalled: “I started looking around the places I was familiar with like Belfast, Carrickfergus and the surrounding areas.

“I came up to Coleraine for a picnic and got lost before arriving at the old wood place along the river and we had our picnic. I could see the town spires in the distance and after walking around we decided to start out business in Coleraine.”

David admitted that he thought he had ‘no chance’ of lasting 40 years in business but knew after a short while his shop was going to be a success.

“When we opened, I lived in Newtownabbey and I drove my mother and my wife up to the shop in Coleraine for six in the morning. I kept my job in Glengormley as a back-up and when I finished there I drove back up and down from Coleraine and that happened for around a year.

“After that we lived in Ballysally for a few years and we knew it was going to be a success. But standing here now do I think the business would last 40 years? No way.”

When asked if he had any special customers throughout the years, David explained that every single client was special and unique to his business.

“They’re all special and we have nothing to gain by saying that. I worked in Belfast for 10 years and by the end of my time there I did not know two customers.

“However, every solitary person that enters my shop here I know them without exception. There all special and I have hundreds of people who I could regard as friends.”

Like every business there are some challenging times and David’s shop is no different. The likeable family man has had to endure multiple robbery attempts.

“They have broken through the back door and they have trailed the shutters off four or five times. I had three guys to rob me and the whole shop was wrecked with the fracas that followed.

“There have been attempts to hammer through the Methodist church hall roof and through the butchers. To be honest, they have done everything but tunnel their way in,” David jokes.

“However, I have no regrets starting a jewellery business, nor moving to Coleraine. I feel lucky to live in Portrush and work in Coleraine. To be honest, a million pounds wouldn’t move me back to Belfast.”

Now David is retiring he has many outdoor plans but admits he will now be expected to look after the grandchildren on a regular basis.

“I plan to go out cycling, walking and fishing and keep myself entertained. Also, I will be expected to look after the grandchildren but it’ll be a pleasure.”

David’s two sons Christopher and Richard are following in the footsteps of their father by running their own business. The company which is called Skunkworks manufactures surfboards and they don’t have to look far for some advice in how to keep a successful and reputable business.

“I told Richard to get a Civil Service job and he didn’t listen to me. But the two boys have got grants and a backer to manufacture surfboards. They are both working hard and are awaiting machinery to get things sorted.

“I will maybe delivering the boards for them. But I have advised them to work hard for six days a week for the rest of your lives.”

Richard has hailed his parents’ influence for getting his new project underway and hopes to emulate what they have achieved over the past 40 years.

“As far as I’m concerned, my parents epitomise everything in growing a business while being family orientated. They came from nothing and now have a successful shop with a lot of trade.

“You can say that they are the ideal role models and they are also decent, lovely people and have a strong core of customers because they are fair and honest. I can’t imagine replicating what they have done but I will give it my best shot,” Richard explains.

“The support from my parents has made this new adventure happen – it is a blind support but Christopher and I would be lost without their advice.

“My father probably wouldn’t like me mentioning this but he has done tremendous work for charity and was chairman of the Northern Ireland Citizens Advice Bureau for numerous years.

“In the 90s, he got invited to Buckingham Palace for his outstanding contribution to charity so it’s fair to say he’s very well respected.”

Richard hopes that Skunkworks will be able to hit the ground running and already have orders for their surfboards from all over the world.

“We have received orders from a wide variety of countries such as Japan, Costa Rica and Spain so everything is extremely busy at the minute.

“I am still involved with the Active Surf School in Portrush and between the two adventures we have employed around 12 staff and have a full-time manager.”

It’s fair to say, if Richard and Christopher can follow in their parent’s path they will have a very long and happy business.