Imminent shutdown of department store blamed on closure of Waterford Crystal

Closure a sad event for social fabric of Waterford

 Kellys of The Quay, Waterford.  Its owner says it has been finding trading “more and more difficult each year”.  Photograph:  Patrick Browne

Kellys of The Quay, Waterford. Its owner says it has been finding trading “more and more difficult each year”. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Thu, Aug 22, 2013, 06:51

“Don’t make it a sad story, make it nostalgic,” Ian Doolan, owner of Kellys in Waterford city, pleads.

But the imminent closure of the Kellys store on The Quay, after being in business since 1847, is inevitably a sad one for the social fabric of Waterford.

Kellys was started by William Kelly and his French wife, Catherine de la Mark. It sold “hosiery, haberdashery, linen and drapery”, says Mr Doolan, who took over the shop more than 30 years ago from his own father, Denis.

The shop passed to the Doolans through family members, but they never changed the name from Kellys because “it was so well known. The name Kellys was like what a brand name would be today.”

When he took over, it sold fashions and fabrics; there were dressmakers attached to it who would make up the patterns that were chosen. Employing eight, it was the destination for those seeking outfits for weddings and Communions.

Although the company owns its premises and does not have burden of rent, Kellys has been losing business since Waterford Crystal closed. “That was a huge loss to the city. A lot of our customers would have been family members of employees. The loss of Waterford Crystal has affected the whole city.”

Since the 2009 closure, Mr Doolan has been finding trading “more and more difficult each year. Footfall was gradually going down all the time.”

In the last couple of months he “looked at the decline in the sales figures and basically I couldn’t see how things were going to improve in the short term. At this stage, with the way the economy is going, I didn’t think it would change. We have been making a loss for the last few years.”

The shop will remain open while it sells off the remainder of its stock. Ironically, since the news broke, Kellys has been packed “with very upset people buying mementoes”. He adds: “There has been more people in the shop the last few days than for many a long day.”