Cosham greengrocer Norman Usher quits trade after more than 50 years and shuts up High Street shop
A MUCH-LOVED greengrocer is looking forward to finally having a lie-in as he is hanging up his apron for good.
Norman Usher, who runs Ushers Fresh Fruit & Vegetables in Cosham’s High Street with his wife Caroline, is retiring more than 50 years in the trade.
The hard-working greengrocer, who started working at a greengrocers in his home city of Liverpool aged 11, usually gets up at 2.15am in order to get to the wholesaler to buy his stock.
However, the 64-year-old is looking forward to a slightly later start after he closes his shop on August 14.
Norman, from Highbury Grove, said: ‘The early mornings are the best. I love the banter at the wholesalers in Southampton. Customers don’t realise that I have done a five-hour shift by the time I open the doors.
‘I am not sure I will be up at 2.15am again, but I will certainly be up by 6am. I am an early-morning person.’
Norman and Caroline have run the Cosham shop for 15 years. They moved to Portsmouth after buying the Cosham shop, and one in Drayton, in 2006.
But now they feel it is time to step back and they are moving back up to Liverpool, where they hope to spend more time with their family, including Norman’s elderly parents and their son, Michael, 42, plus their two grandchildren.
Norman said: ‘For the first 10 years of having this shop we didn’t take a holiday as no-one could do the market side of things. Then later even when we had a holiday it wasn't very relaxing as we still had bills to pay.
‘In this business you don’t have much of a social life. My family do a lot of things together as a group so we are looking forward to finally being able to join in.’
Norman said that he was closing the doors with a heavy heart, as he would have liked to have seen the business carry on but he struggled to find anyone willing to take it on.
‘We are not closing this shop because it doesn’t make money. It does. It is a viable business,’ he said.
‘Years ago we would advertise a Saturday vacancy and get 50 applicants, these days we struggle to get one. Everyone’s lifestyle has changed and there’s no incentive to go out and work, get up early and do some graft.’
Norman and Caroline kept their shop going through the pandemic, but with the lease ending they decided it was time to re-evaluate their priorities.
The shop will close on August 14 and be gutted, and there are currently no future plans for it.
Norman thanked his customers for their support over the years.
He said: ‘We have made a lot of friends over the years. Cosham welcomed us with open arms considering we were outsiders. We have made a lot of strong friendships. Our customers have been brilliant.’
Norman said that despite spending his entire life working with fruit and vegetables, he’s not sick of them yet and he still plans to continue his six apples a day habit, even into retirement.