A TOWN trader has finally pulled the plug on his electrical goods business after nearly 33 years so he can retire.
Phil Howell said it was sad to close the doors on SoundWaves in Great Malvern for the last time but looked back on an incredibly successful journey.
It all began in 1982 when he originally opened the shop in Ledbury specialising in radios which he had been interested in since his uncle showed him a Crystal Radio set at the age of four.
But within 18 months SoundWaves ‘outgrew’ the location becoming the supplier to more than 160 other stores and Phil managed to secure the premises at Worcester Road where he remained until now.
“Malvern town centre was very busy in those days, far busier than today because of the retail park,” he said.
“But we were very specialised and people would have come to us even if we were in Timbuktu.”
Over the years Phil, from Colwall, has been at the heart of many technology booms including telephones, mobile phones and computers.
In the 80s the store won a national award for having the most connections to the Mercury phone network.
Expansions along the way have included installing entire telephone systems to businesses as well as introducing a service centre for repairs.
But it was the move to launch SoundWaves on the Internet in 2000 which proved to have the most dramatic impact.
At first, sales were through the roof and Phil brought in his daughter Kerry just to manage the web side of things. But then after two years disaster struck when fraudsters hacked in to the company’s internet page stealing thousands of pounds worth of goods.
“It nearly killed me,” Phil said. “It was getting to the point where if we had not have got hit I could have closed the shop. But after that happened it took us three years to get back to where we were before.
“We had no choice but to stop trading on the internet and because of the pain we went through I never went back.”
Despite the setback shop sales have always remained strong and it is only to take up retirement that 65-year-old Phil has decided to call it a day.
“There have been a lot of revolutions and we have been around in every single one of them and could have carried on.
“We always kept one step ahead, if you don’t keep up with what people want you’ve had it.
“It’s been a tremendous success and I’ve reached that good old age where it’s time to put my feet up.
“I would like to thank all of our customers who have used SoundWaves to supply their equipment and a special thanks to my wife Jean who has kept the books in order.”