Thursday 20 July 2017

'It's going to cost us a fortune to stock up from EU'

Shop-owner Tony Lipton. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Shop-owner Tony Lipton. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

From fidget spinners to sauce boats, the shelves of Tony Lipton's shop are heaving, in the modern day version of 'everything from a needle to an anchor'.

This time of the year, it's all the gardening items that sell big, and then they'll move into school uniforms before Halloween decorations and then Christmas lights.

"We buy a lot of stuff in from the UK but now we're looking at buying in from Europe - but it's a different culture," says Mr Lipton, as he grapples with Brexit with wife Michelle and son Ciarán. Currently the shop in Clones, Co Monaghan, buys 70pc of its stock from the UK.

If it buys €1,000 worth of goods, it gets free delivery, arriving within four or five days. When Mr Lipton looked into buying the same sort of goods from Germany, he found he would have to buy €5,000 to €7,000 of goods to get free delivery - and the process of getting goods to Clones will take a week or more.

"We've been dealing with these British companies for 20 years and we've built up credit lines. Now we've found companies in Germany and Holland that are willing to do business but you would have to pay them before you'd get the merchandise."

The Liptons have other Brexit concerns. With at least 20pc of the business coming from customers over the Border, they are worried the Northern portion of their trade will transfer to Newtownbutler, just 8km away, or Rosslea, 5km away.

"But you have to remain confident. The uncertainty is the hard part but we've been through worse times ... I hope."

They have expanded the shop significantly since they bought it more than 20 years ago. Back then, five roads into Clones were closed due to the Border. Since the Good Friday Agreement all routes have been restored which has led to a greater number of Northern customers who are happy to shop 'local' even if it means crossing the invisible Border and spending euro to do so.

Irish Independent

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