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Chrisp Street Market seller retires after 54 years of trading

PUBLISHED: 09:20 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:21 20 November 2018

Carle Wootton outside Steve's Best Sellers which he's been running for almost 30 years. Picture: Poplar HARCA

Carle Wootton outside Steve's Best Sellers which he's been running for almost 30 years. Picture: Poplar HARCA

Archant

A Chrisp Street Market vendor is retiring after 54 years of trade.

Carle Wootton with an article about him in the East London Advertiser in 1990. Picture: Poplar HARCACarle Wootton with an article about him in the East London Advertiser in 1990. Picture: Poplar HARCA

Carle Wootton started at the market in 1965 as a tea boy, earning £1.50 an hour, because he wanted to buy a pair of Levis.

After moving round various stalls, he set up one of his own in the old arcade, next to the Prince of Wales pub.

In 1990 he moved the shop, Steve’s Best Sellers, into its current site opposite the Percy Ingle bakery, but now he’s made the tough decision to retire to spend more time with his family.

“I didn’t see my kids grow up,” Carle said.

A younger Carle Wootton trading in Steve's Best Sellers. Picture: PicasaA younger Carle Wootton trading in Steve's Best Sellers. Picture: Picasa

“I’d pull that shutter down and it was like a ton weight. It would age me five years every year.

“We used to start our holiday trading in September. On Christmas Eve, I’d add all the money up and we’d go to a local restaurant and have a meal. I’d fall asleep at the restaurant, guaranteed.”

But family, and this work ethic, have always been central to the store’s success. Carle’s five sisters and two brothers have worked at the shop at some point.

“The most enjoyable part of the job is the people you work with,” Carle said.

“I like dealing with people, people you can trust.”

Despite the shop’s success, Carle admitted the area is changing. Even for a business embedded in the community, the rise of online shopping and big chains have had their effect.

“In the heyday we probably had 15 staff in here,” he said.

“We used to take as much money on a Saturday as we take all week now.”

Carle believes the character of the shop and the people who run it is has kept it relevance to the people that live here.

“Please and thank you with a smile doesn’t cost a penny,” Carle said.

“That’s the way I was brought up.

“No-one talks to anybody anymore, everybody sticks their nut down and just carries on walking. I always try to speak to people if I can.”

Carle plans on spending his retirement enjoying the tasks he hasn’t before, like cutting the grass and cleaning the car.

Steve’s Best Sellers’ last day will be January 19, 2019.

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