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Wallis closes after 30 years in Devonport

Flagstaff Team

Family firm… (From left) Anna, David and Carol Mountford of Wallis, at the store’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2014

Landmark Devonport fashion store Wallis is closing down after 30 years trading in the main street.

And for founder Carol Mountford it ends more than 40 years retailing in the suburb.

Her first store was Dress Box, opened in 1976, followed by Down Under in 1980, under Manuka restaurant, and then The Store, opposite the Victoria Theatre. She followed these by launching the renowned Low Flying Duck Cafe in the main street in 1987, before setting up Wallis in 1989.

For her daughter Anna Mountford, Wallis has always been a part of her life.

“It was my first job when I was 14. Mum used to open the shop on a Sunday so I could work there,” she says.

After secondary school, Anna did a physical-education degree, and was a teacher, but returned to work for Wallis in 2000.

“It was a family business in every sense of the word, and it worked really well. (Her dad David joined the firm in 1994, working on administration and accounts).

Over the years, the firm, which sold the Wallis and Mountford labels as well as a host of other lines, had stores in Mt Eden, Parnell, Mt Maunganui, Tauranga and Papamoa. It had a policy of at least half its stock being New Zealand-made.

However, when the lease for the Devonport shop came up for renewal recently, the decision was made to close the whole business.

“David and Carol have been living on Waiheke for the last couple of years and are wanting to retire, and it was time for me to try something different,” says Anna, who has been living in Tauranga for 11 years.

“We had thought about selling, but it has been so much a part of all our lives it just didn’t seem right,” she says.

Anna has no idea what she will do next, but plans to follow her daughter Maia Horlock, who has been selected in the New Zealand junior volleyball team for the Asian champs.

Anna says Wallis was always grateful to its loyal Devonport customer base, some of whom had shopped at the store since it opened 30 years ago.

Carol Mountford said that along with the customers, dating back 40 years, the Wallis staff had also been fantastic.

“With a family business, the staff become family as well.”

This article originally appeared in the 14 February edition of the Devonport FlagstaffDownload PDF.