Monday 19 March 2018

Ready to wear and the cutest in Kenmare

O'Sullivan-Ford is just the sort of boutique that will attract visitors from both home and abroad, says Lucinda O'Sullivan

WE have been through a turbulent week politically and financially, but we could be an awful lot worse off. We are not at war, we do not have tsunamis, famine or earthquakes to deal with and, as those of us who have been through earlier hard times know, we will ride it out.

You and I have to get on with it -- and in this regard it has to be hammered home that it was never more important that we staycation, as they say. And it has to be highlighted around the tourism markets abroad what a great time it is to come to Ireland -- what value there will be, with great facilities and great food.

It is essential that we support local Irish businesses and products. I love going into small, individual shops rather than big chain stores because you will always find something different -- and not necessarily any more expensive.

When it comes to boutiques, there is a gorgeous shop in Kenmare called O'Sullivan-Ford. John O'Sullivan is the third generation of his family to run O'Sullivan-Ford, a ladies', children's, and homeware shop, on The Square in Kenmare. Driving into the town, O'Sullivan-Ford's smart grey exterior, with Chelsea-style planters outside the door, caught my eye immediately.

John and his sister Elaine took over the running of the shop two years ago from their mother, Marie, and have since added their stamp.

In the early Forties, John's grandfather bought the business from Ford's when it was a drapery shop with a millinery factory overhead. Grandfather O'Sullivan was a very good businessman with an eye to the future. He had started out life as a shoemaker, but had bigger ambitions. Having bought Ford's, which his wife ran, he then opened the first cash & carry and two supermarkets in Kenmare.

John's mother, who herself had a children's shop, took over the shop from the grandparents and amalgamated the two. John grew up in this atmosphere of business, and worked with Penneys for 12 years in retail management, both in Ireland and the UK.

"Business has been good," John says. "It has held its own; you have to work a bit harder to maintain it."

John says he is always pushing himself to do better and wanting to move on with the shop, but that you do have to watch where you spend your money, and keep your head down and stay positive.

O'Sullivan-Ford has always enjoyed a very good local trade, and gives great support and service to its customers. He is now working on the corporate logo and new website.

No one is more experienced than John in the art of buying well, and he has a great eye. He looks for labels that offer something different for customers, many of whom travel from Cork and west Cork.

I saw so many lovely things on my visit. On the rails, and hopping off the rails, were labels Dolce Vita, Sao Paolo, Peppercorn, Oxmo, Desigual, and Seasalt -- a label from Cornwall which specialises in organic cotton. The shop also stocks Joules, a smart German label which comes in every month.

There are also the cutest kids' clothes, including Little Joule, Mayoral, and the gorgeous Spanish range Tuc Tuc -- with wonderful colours and immense detailing, but reasonably priced.

Go and browse the rails at O'Sullivan-Ford. John will tell you honestly whether or not that outfit suits you.

John O'Sullivan can be contacted on 064 664-1030;

Sunday Independent

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