Roy retires after 50 years at landmark Harborough shop

Centre, Roy Carter puts his feet up after 50 years working at H Monk & Sons with some of the staff Sonia Chambers, Jeremy West, Vicky Jeffery, Ollie Monk and Kelly Monk.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Centre, Roy Carter puts his feet up after 50 years working at H Monk & Sons with some of the staff Sonia Chambers, Jeremy West, Vicky Jeffery, Ollie Monk and Kelly Monk. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

A comfy armchair is waiting for the long-serving director of Market Harborough’s landmark furnishers H Monk & Sons.

Roy Carter, 64, is retiring from the Northampton Road shop after a stalwart 50 years.

Monk's first shop.

Monk's first shop.

“I started part-time when I was 14” said Mr Carter, a former Lutterworth Secondary Modern School boy, born in South Kilworth.

“I was mad on model railways at the time, and in those days Monk’s sold toys, including model railways.”

And what made him want to stay? “I suppose because no two days are the same. You never know who’s going to walk through the front door.”

Mr Carter recalls that his initial “job interview” lasted about five seconds.

H Monk and Sons transport.

H Monk and Sons transport.

“Kitty Monk knew my mother, so when I walked into the shop for the first time she just looked at me and said ‘yes, you’ll do’.”

That was in 1966 when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, The Beatles were number one with Paperback Writer and the Monk’s shop was ... exactly where it is today.

“I suppose we were more like a small version of a department store then” recalled Mr Carter.

“We had a toy department upstairs and sold all sorts of fancy goods as well as furniture. We also did removals.”

An old Monk & Sons advert in the Harborough Mail.

An old Monk & Sons advert in the Harborough Mail.

More recently the firm has focussed on furnishings, and has two shops in Market Harborough.

The main store, which has been on Northampton Road since 1932, currently concentrates on flooring, furniture and bedding, and a smaller shop on Gower Street - The Fabric Workshop - specialises in curtains and wallpaper.

But there’s been a Monk’s business in Market Harborough since 1895, always run by members of the Monk family.

The business began by selling oil to farmers.

Why does Mr Carter think the shop has lasted so long?

“I think it’s because we give a personal service, people trust us and know where to find us, and we don’t overcharge.

“Once people have used us once, they nearly always come back for more.

“They know if there’s a follow-up five years on, the same shop and the same people will be there to serve them.

“Now Oliver Monk and Kelly Monk are with the business, and there’s no 
reason why it can’t continue into the next century.”

Biggest sellers for the shop at the moment are fitted carpets, beds and soft furnishings.

“When I started we didn’t do fitted carpets” said Mr Carter. “You had a carpet in the middle of the floor, with lino round the edge.”

Mr Carter, who now lives in Croft, near Leicester, now plans to spend more time with his wife Sandie, his children and grandchildren, and more time walking and fishing.

He said: “I’ve been in this same shop for 50 years - I’ve probably spent more time here than I have at home - so yes, I think I will miss it.”