It was end of an era for the popular ViVO Essentials in Plumbridge as the store changed hands after over 100 years of the McCullagh name above the door.
Sean McCullagh, whose family traded in the Northern Irish village since the early 1900s, announced his retirement and handed the keys to the shop to new owner, Aidan Walters, this week. .
Sean commented: “My great grandfather started our family business and I remember working in the shop from a very young age. I thought I would have a career in joinery but I was well and truly bitten by the retail bug! I took over the shop in 1976 and began trading with Henderson Wholesale as a VG a couple of years later – and I haven’t looked back since!”
The original store was opened right next door to where the store resides today.In 1991 Sean acquired the site next to the original shop and built his new shop unit which is where they trade from today, with the new, bigger shop providing even more essentials for the local community.
“As a family, we have invested in the shop to continue to serve the local community and their changing needs over the decades, and my own children cut their teeth on the shop floor too. They went on to pursue other careers, however there’s no denying the values and morals a start in retail gives a person,” Sean said.
“We’re a close community here in Plumbridge and I’m very proud to have been an essential part of it for so long. I’ll miss our shoppers but know they’ll be in great hands with Aidan who has family in the area too.”
To mark his departure from the store, Sean donated an Automated External Defibrillator to the new owners, providing a potentially lifesaving piece of kit for the local community. He added: “The shop is the local hub. We need to keep our community safe and having a device such as a defibrillator to hand could save someone’s life. Let’s hope it never needs to be used, but just knowing it is there, is help in itself.”
Aidan Walters, who has bought the store from Sean comes from another strong retail family having traded with BWG under the XL brand in County Donegal. With over 20 years’ experience, ViVO Essentials Plumbridge is his second store.
Aidan commented: “I am from Strabane and my partner is originally from Plumbridge, so we know the locals well and we always loved coming back to her home to visit the village – this opportunity just made sense for us to take. The McCullagh’s have grown a fantastic, trusted and well-known business here and we’re excited to build on that and provide even more for our local shoppers in this store.
“We’ll be giving the shop a small update with some new refrigeration and extended shelving, plus a bit of a new look with imagery both inside and outside to make our mark – and Sean’s defibrillator will be installed outside, available 24/7 should it be needed. I am very excited to put my all into this store and continue to invest to provide the local community with the services, products and support they are looking for in their local shop.”
Henderson Group, who owns the ViVO brand in Northern Ireland, presented Sean with a plaque to mark his successful 30 years of trading with the wholesaler.