VETERAN Mexborough trader Gordon Smith is saying farewell to customers and fellow stallholders after more than 50 years on the market.
Instantly recognisable in his Union Jack top hat, Gordon has been a constant figure at his toy stall in the indoor market for decades, bringing joy to generations of children.
But he is set to leave in January as he is unable to meet new rent increases being introduced by Doncaster Council.
However , he takes with him a wealth of great memories.
Gordon said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working in Mexborough. It’s a great town and the people make it what it is.
“The joy comes from seeing families so happy when you provide them with the toy they have been looking for.”
His association with the market goes back to the 1950s when he used to help out at his auntie and uncle’s stall while still a schoolboy. He eventually took over the business and moved into the stall where he is today when the indoor market opened in 1975.
Throughout the years he has organised many market events and seen one or two toy crazes come and go.
He said: “There has been some really fun times.
“I can remember when Star Wars was all the rage, and the action figures and space ships were really selling fast.
“The company I got the toys from sent someone down dressed as Darth Vader to the market. We had a bit of a parade and the Star Wars theme song on, which was nice.
“On another occasion I remember when Yo Yos were popular. I had to rush back and forth to the suppliers each night to keep up with the demand.
“I’ve always been known for having the toys in that maybe bigger stores have run out of.”
Gordon’s retirement has been brought on by a council rent hike, which will see some traders paying upto five times more than they currently pay.
Doncaster mayor Peter Davies says the increase is necessary to meet government cuts.
Gordon said: “I just will not be able to afford the new rents.
“So when this stock runs out, which maybe in two or three weeks time, I will be finishing.”
However, he added that he would stay involved with the ‘Save The High Street’ campaign, which intends to stimulate growth for local businesses and traders.
“I have a strong association with Mexborough, and I wont just abandon it.
“I’ll be helping other traders to look at ways of regenerating the town, so it will be a busy retirement.”