I was involved in the fashion industry from 1985 – 1995, so 10 years or if you wish and like to be specific from the ages of 22 – 32 and l did enjoy it. I started out in the Burton Group working for Burtons, then moved into Principles for Men and from there l then switched to Dorothy Perkins ladies wear, then over into River island, then to High and Mighty and ending up in a Scottish based discount superstore business by the name of What Everyone Wants [WEW] and bringing the end to retail were my days as an NVQ retail trainer. During these years l also ran a business by the name of EDO Fashion Promotions but overall as said l really enjoyed this industry for the fun times and trust me when l say there were a fair few!
This particular story happened in 1993 and l was at that time training in the Bishop Stortford [Hertfordshire] store of WEW to become the new Flagship manager for the new WEW to open in Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.
To the unknowing, WEW [What Everyone Wants] was a retail discount store selling everything you could want under one roof. It wasn’t in my opinion fantastically brilliant quality however it served the market and for a good many years was a very popular chain.
In retail as many sales assistants and upwards can tell you, you meet some funny old folk from all walks of life and they all have their own desires and needs that need meeting. Here is one such short tale from my retailing days!
Mr Burly’s Snug Fitting!
15th July 1993 – Thursday…..
I was at the front of the store when this big bulky burly guy came in, the sort of chap you really didn’t want to get on the wrong side of, and most assuredly if you were to pick a fight you wanted him on your side and not the oppositions! He was around 5’62 so smaller than myself, but built like a boxer or a builder, and as it happened he was indeed the latter.
He walked straight up to me and said in a really deep growly type of gruff voice … “Got any tights mate?”
“Absolutely sir, just over there in the corner.” I answered pointing to a huge upright promotions bin holding all our wares. “We also have a sale on, so everything is half price.” I said smiling.
“Cheers Guv.” And off walked Mr Burly in the atypical what l called the Hoffmeister Bear walking style, but probably more commonly known as a boxer gait. For those not in the know, the Bear was a classic advert icon for a while for the lager and quite funny it has to be said.
After a few minutes of watching Mr Burly looking confused l walked over there and asked if he needed any assistance? “Yes mate, actually l do, l need some tights that are really thick, really heavy l like ’em, thick and heavy, you know what l mean?”
Truth is, l didn’t, as l was not really a connoisseur on thick ladies tights at all, and wasn’t particularly fond of them anyway, more of a stockings man myself, however, wasn’t my concern, my job was to make sure that my customer Mr Burly was satisfied.
“Okay then sir, do you have a preference, a particular denier maybe?” I asked.
“Real heavy, thick, opaque, black opaque are the ones l really like, l like the feel of them against my hands.” He answered looking at me earnestly.
“Then you probably want something like a 40 denier, they are the thickest we have sir, something like this, or this or even these?” I said holding up various style of 40 denier tights in black. They were seriously heavy, tightly latticed, almost like trousers in themselves!
Mr Burly then asked if he could look at them more closely without the packaging? “Yes of course”, and so l undid the box, and pulled out these ‘horrible monstrosities of the thickest ugliest tights l had ever held in my hands!
MR Burly, took them from me, and let them drop to the floor and was crooning over these, not slobbering at all, but really admiring them. “Ooh these are lovely mate, really like, really warm l reckon, they will good against my skin, know what l mean? Nice innit to have these entwined around your legs on a cold morning, wink wink!”
Well my mind was going obviously the other way and l was desperately trying to figure out why Mr Burly was sharing with me such intimate information about his loved one and himself canoodling on a cold morning?
“I will have to take your word for it sir, and l can see by the twinkle in your eyes, you really are into heavy lacy tights.”
Mr Burly suddenly stopped dead in his tracks and said, “Are you being funny with me mate?”
Uh oh l thought, shit, he has taken offence!!
Suddenly he laughed, “No mate they are not for ‘er indoors, she likes’ em smooth, and l like to see ‘er in smooth almost silky stockings to be honest, no these are for me, l have found them really comfortable, l love wearing them see, they are really warm on cold mornings! You see l am a builder, an’ in the late autumn and winter months, it get’s bloody cold on the working sites. the other guys laugh at me, but l like em see …”
With that he suddenly dropped his jeans in the store and there before me were his two legs adorned in black tights, not heavy ones like he was holding now but a much finer and sheerer denier.
“Oh l see, but l thought you only wore the tights in winter sir?”
“No mate, l wear em all year round, my Sarah she also gets a kick out of seeing me wearing them, and let me tell you if you want to improve your sex life, wear tights me ol’ cocker!”
Mr Burly and l did actually enjoy a laugh, the other staff were just looking at us in almost complete mortification. He was a bloody good buyer as well, we had twenty odd pairs of 40 denier tights in both the promotions bin and out back in the stores and he bought the lot! Additionally he invited me out one night to meet his wife and we all shared a pint in his local swapping stories, which was way better than spending another night in the damn hotel!
Nowt as strange as folk eh?