My name is Finola Armstrong McGuire, and my family have been serving the public from our shop The Magnet on Carrick-on-Shannon's Main St. since July 27th 1956. This year, as we enter our 65th year of business, we celebrate with the launch of SchoolUniformStore.ie
Previously a private residence for 10 years, and prior to that a grocery and bar with a bakery in the basement, The Magnet was opened by my parents Paul (originally from Tubbercurry, Co Sligo,) and Lena (originally from just outside Drumshanbo) Armstrong. Paul and Lena chose the name as Carrick was, at that time, already home to an Armstrong's (drapery and pub).
As with all premises in our towns and villages, the family lived over the shop and gardens were our playground.
Customers over the years have come from hinterland of Kilmore, Hillstreet, Woodbrook, Cootehall, Leitrim village, Drumshanbo, Arigna, Jamestown, Drumsna, Annaduff, Dromod, Rooskey, Bornacoola, Mohill, Kilnagross, Drumcong, Keadue, Knockvicar and beyond. We are happy to work with the school representatives to help in choosing a practical and presentable uniform at best quality and reasonable cost to the families we serve.
Summertime means Carrick-on-Shannon's streets welcome visitors from beyond our shores and many living in Dublin and London have become familiar with our shop through their holiday visits.
Over time our school uniform store within our shop has become a major part of our business. In the early 1960s few schools had specific uniforms, but gradually the positive side of wearing a uniform has led to almost all our local schools now having chosen a recognised uniform.
Families who come to Carrick from Europe often stop to see the school uniform department in our shop and many have been known to bring home a sweatshirt bearing a school logo because they liked the colour and particularly the crest showing the origin of the school and its ethos. Full uniform ensembles have been put together to be worn by children and teenagers on their return to their schools in other parts of Europe.
Many students who wear our school blouses, shirts and slacks during school term choose to return to us when they need workwear because they know the quality of the garments and the value garments in our School Uniform Store represent.
In our own locality today we can proudly say we have served 5 generations in many households. In turn our customers have been served by any of 3 generations of our family during our years.
Our business motto has always been to buy smaller quantities often, turn stock over in our shop with each season and keep prices keen for the customer. Our school uniform store is testament to this. We carry school uniforms all year around with stocks being particularly high in July and August.
Purchasing a child's school uniform is a memorable day and a special one in family life. I am particularly aware that the personal shopping related to school uniform is remembered by the child forever. A frequent comment to Granny or Grandad as they walk past our door with their grandchild is “Look Nana /Grandad - that’s where I got my school uniform!”
I love my job managing my retail shop. I like meeting my customers and sharing time with them within the shop.
I feel passionately that the needs of people are met by community being active and working together. We always depend on each other and always will. I have been in Retail and School Uniform business in busy times and in quiet times and feel the greatest needs in community are met when people communicate with each other in the everyday moments of life. Small personal retail shops play a big part in creating this experience.
Shops, offices, restaurants, hotels, post offices, hairdressers, barbers and pubs as well as many other outlets make up our small towns and create communities. They are our sponsors in sport, recreation and festival events. When there is a call out for sponsorship, spot prizes and voluntary participation small business owners always responds positively.
Six years ago I contested the Local Election in my area successfully obtaining a seat in Leitrim Co Co on which I continue to serve my community now for my second term. Being a familiar face in retail has helped me help others and I hope to continue to do so for some years ahead.
Finola Armstrong McGuire