Gidea Park store to close after 39 years
PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:13 15 March 2018
A newsagent from Gidea Park is going to retire after running his store for nearly 40 years.
Mahendra “Mac” Khetia, 70, and his wife Veena Khetia, 65, first bought their store in 4 Carlton Road, in April 1979 and on Saturday, March 17 he will close the shop for the last time.
The couple first decided that they wanted to buy the store because they were looking for a job that would allow them to have more time with their one-year-old daughter.
Mac told the Recorder that it was on his daughter’s first birthday when they got the news that the store was theirs.
He said: “We made an offer, and after a few weeks someone else was interested and it fell through and then in April 1979, on my daughter’s first birthday, we got a call asking if we were still interested in buying the shop, and of course we were. Then we made a trip down to the bank to get the money to buy the shop and that was it.”
A lot has changed in the 39 years that Mac and his wife have owned the shop. He said that one of his fondest memories of the shop was when it expanded and started renting videos in the mid 1980s.
This was one of the most popular parts of the store according to Mac. He said you could rent a video for one night for £1, and wouldn’t have to sign up to anything - unlike other video rental stores.
He said: “We used to advertise it as ‘pick up a paper, pick up a video’.
“It was very popular, and lots of people used to love it.
“We turned our front room of the house into more space just so we could fit more videos in the store.”
At its pinnacle the store had 11 paper boys, delivering to 350-400 houses, but in the last few years he has only needed three paper boys as the area they cover has shrunk a lot.
He said: “It is funny because we have had old paper boys bringing their sons and daughters into the shop, and we have really seen them grow up.”
According to Mac, before he bought the store in 1979 it had previously been a shop called Ditty Box. He replaced the frontage and rebranded it as MD & VM Khetia. Loyal customers have been thanking Mac and his wife for their hard work over the years, and he said that they had received lots of kind messages.
Mac said: “Without our customers none of this would have been possible. Getting such lovely messages, it is very touching.”
After 39 years in the shop Mac has now got a few plans for his retirement, and said that he might be taking a trip down memory lane and going back to Cardiff where he went to university,
He said: “It would be nice to go back after all these years, and look at all the buildings and go to all the places that were a part of my youth.
“I’m looking forward to retiring but there is still quite a lot I have left to do.”
Garry Woodman, of Carlton Road, said that he had been a customer at Mac’s since 1984 and said that he will miss him once he retires.
He told the Recorder: “Mac always used to keep a copy of the paper for me, and it will be a great loss.
“He always offered such a personal service, and I love going to chat to him when I go and get my paper, it could be about anything, but it is a sad shame that we are starting to lose this personal service in local shops more and more.”
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