ONE of the town’s oldest family-run stores is preparing to close its doors for the final time at the end of the month.

The Waysiders, based on Horsemarket Street, has specialised in glassware and china products in the town centre since 1944.

Owner Martin Hales, from Grappenhall, is the second generation to take over the business after his father, John, and uncle, Tony, began the venture 70 years ago.

The 61-year-old, said: “The thing I’ll miss the most is the people – it isn’t like having customers, they are genuine friends and some of whom have been coming in for many years.

“I bumped into three women who have burst into tears when they found out we were closing.”

Until the regeneration of Old Market Place in the early 1970s, The Waysiders was initially made up of three stores – dedicated to glassware and china, wool and haberdashery.

A relocation to one amalgamated store followed, where they joined a popular row of shops including Burtons and H Samuel on Horsemarket Street.

After spending ten months as an executive trainee in retail upon leaving Lymm Grammar School, Martin joined the new store where he spent 35 years working alongside his father.

He added: “It’s been one big happy family really, and it will be a sad moment when the time comes to finally shut for good.

“I’ve had the owners of other family-run businesses in the town come in and tell me how much we will be missed. It has been quite emotional.”

But things could have been different for the now 61-year-old, who turned down the opportunity to become a professional tennis player as a teenager after competing at the Junior Wimbledon.

“I have no regrets. Maybe I could have seen the world cheaply, but I wouldn’t change a thing,” he insisted.

Martin also describes how out-of-town developments such as Gemini Retail Park and the latest redevelopment of the Golden Square have hit family businesses the hardest.

He said: “It is a shame that some unbelievable shops have been hit because the business has been re-focused elsewhere in the town.”

The father-of-two to Francesca and Georgina, both in their twenties, now plans to enjoy a peaceful retirement with wife Morag.

Cafe Caruso, currently based on Bank Street, hope to secure the premises and relocate by the end of the year.