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Owners' change of business

PUBLISHED: 09:48 02 August 2008 | UPDATED: 14:39 07 July 2010

Owners of a Dereham pine shop have announced they are shutting up shop - and driving off into the sunset with their American Dream wedding car hire firm.

Owners of a Dereham pine shop have announced they are shutting up shop - and driving off into the sunset with their American Dream wedding car hire firm.

Toni Ford and Barry Smith have run Barry's Pine for 16 years, but are now retiring and are set to spend more time on their passion, American classic cars which they hire out for weddings.

The pair, Norfolk born and bred, said business was getting very tough for independent retailers in the current climate.

The shop will close on Saturday, August 30.

Miss Ford, 60, said: “Conditions are dire at the moment, dire for anyone in retail and dire in small independent retail.

“With the likes of Tesco doubling the size of the store and starting to sell furniture it is hard.

“The largest furniture retailer in this country is Argos. If people want cheap furniture they go there. More moneyed people go to the likes of John Lewis and Jarrold. Small independents like us struggle.

“Everyone has sales on at the moment because no one is spending any money. We are lucky really that we can retire.”

Barry's Pine started off as Barry's Bargain Bunks, a stall Mr Smith ran on Snetterton and Ipswich markets from 1992.

It quickly took off and he took up a unit on Rashes Green selling wholesale in 1994. Soon general customers were asking to buy furniture so the Yaxham Road branch was opened later the same year.

Miss Ford then decided to leave her job and join the business and they went from strength to strength.

They started selling oak and ash about a year ago to meet trends.

The pair lived in Wymondham before moving to Hockering, near to Dereham.

Now they are set to put their time into their passion - American classic cars.

They have seven, including two Mustangs, one from 1967 and one from 2008, a Dodge Charger, a Chrysler Imperial, a Cadillac Saloon and a Cheverolet Bel Air.

Another is a 1930s style Excalibur Sedan, called Bugsy, of which there were only 92 built and it is believed to be the only one in the UK.

With them they run www.amerciandream.org.uk, a wedding car hire firm.

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