After 43 year’s service, there is more than one gap to fill when Phil Young retires from Deans Art on July 3.
For starters, there’s the gap in knowledge that customers have grown reliant on over a long time. And there’s the gap in Phil’s life. The commute to the shop, the work and the train ride home again.
Coming in from Frankston and, more recently, Cranbourne, Phil has spent at least three years of his life on the train.
“I’ll miss jumping on the train each day,” he said.
As for doing retail for so long, he is the first to admit that it’s not the best paid job.
“But if you like what you’re doing and you’re paying your bills, that’s fine,” he said.
According to his co-workers, Phil is a walking encyclopedia of everything you could possibly want to know about art supplies.
“I’ve said to him that he should start a website called ‘Ask Phil’,” said Deans’ Lonsdale St store manager Shelley Forget.
Phil says he has enjoyed his time working for Deans Art and that the company had always looked after its people.
“There are a lot of people who have worked for this company for a very long time,” he said. “That tells a story in itself. I’ve been well looked after and have been helped out when in strife.”
In his time, Phil has seen great changes to the way retail operates.
He remarked that news agencies and hardware stores had fallen by the wayside and that, internally, product display had undergone a revolution.
When he started, products were kept filled away in cupboards and drawers and customers were asked to make their selections from swatches or catalogues.
“It’s all hang and sell now,” he said. “People expect to not only see it, but to touch, squeeze and kick the products.”
With an inventory of about 25,000 lines, the sheer range of items on hand was a challenge, he said.
“But, if you don’t have everything that the customer wants, they’ll just walk out and go somewhere else,” he said.
One thing has remained constant, however. Phil said he had continued to learn throughout the 43 years.
“It’s all interesting stuff,” he said. “It’s a great industry to be a part of.”
His future is now focusing on the garden
“My wife wants me around to do the heavy work,” he said. “That’s fine. I’ve had enough.”