AFTER almost 40 years working in the town’s CBD, Lesley Harry knows more about the evolution of Port Fairy than most.
On the weekend, Mrs Harry will close the door for the last time on her Belfast Emporium shop in Bank Street.
While Mrs Harry will step into retirement, the shop will re-open in the coming weeks in a new guise.
Reynee Johnstone is the new owner and after some refurbishing, she will open the shop as Baleka Leather and Homewares.
Mrs Harry is thrilled another business person is taking up the opportunity to trade in Port Fairy.
She said the continued growth of the town has been a highlight of her time in business.
“In the early 1980s Reg (her husband) and I had the Heritage Milkbar for three or four years,” Mrs Harry said.
“There were only two places where you could buy coffee in Port Fairy back then.
“In the middle of July, it would be that quiet the supermarket would close at lunch time.
“Look out the window today and even on a cold winter day the town is buzzing, it’s been an amazing transformation.”
After leaving the Heritage Milkbar, Mrs Harry went to work for electricians Graham Woodrup and Ken Lemke.
The business operated out of the premises in Bank Street where Belfast Emporium is now.
After the tragic death of Mr Woodrup in a cycling accident, an offer was made to Mrs Harry to continue running the electrical shop.
She took up the opportunity and, through her creative flair, slowly began to expand the range of stock.
“Sales reps would come in with different items and I was always keen to give the new things they were selling a try,” Mrs Harry said.
“I have always loved collectables, things that gather value. Fine silver jewellery is something else I have loved having in the shop over the years. It has actually been a bit of an education as to what is out there, we have had some incredible things in the shop over the years.”
While Mrs Harry is looking forward to retirement, she is eyeing a full social diary.
“I plan to go out for a lot of coffee, go to the beach when I want, all those fun things,” she said.