Ipswich: Why Christmas is time to Twist ‘n’ Shout about independent traders

Alan Rayner at his clothes shop Twist `n Shout in St Stephens Lane, Ipswich.

Alan Rayner at his clothes shop Twist `n Shout in St Stephens Lane, Ipswich. - Credit: Contributed

There is still an important role for independent high street stores at Christmas despite the rise of the internet, says shopkeeper Alan Rayner.

Mr Rayner has spent all of his working life in clothes retail and has built up considerable knowledge.

“Blimey.” he says, “That is 39 years now. I started from school at Montague and Burton (now Burtons), in Colchester.

“At one time I wanted to be a chef, but I love clothes, and I love meeting people, like you do in retail. Once I got into it, I didn’t want to do anything else.

“I have a lot of regular customers, and sometimes they just come in for a chat, not just to buy clothes.

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“It is what I love about it.”

Mr Rayner, from Colchester, opened his Ipswich retro-style menswear shop, Twist ‘n’ Shout, in St Stephen’s Lane, opposite The Ancient House, three years ago.

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“It is a lovely Grade II listed building so I can’t change anything, not even the door knobs, but I love it. It has real character,” he said.

“If you look above the modern shop fronts in town you can see the character of the old buildings.”

Mr Rayner specialises in retro-style casual clothes, stocking British brands like Lambretta, Guide of London and Claudio Lugli.

He said: “Some of my male customers have more clothes than their partners.

“That’s why I have chairs. So the ladies can sit, and watch, and give their verdict when their men try on clothes.

“People still like to try on clothes, rather than just look at them online.

“There is pleasure in shopping. What kind of life would we have if we spent all our time at home and ordered things on the internet?

“Who wants to go and queue in the post office, to pick up the parcel, only to try the clothes on to find they are not right, and have to post them back?

“I love to have a laugh and joke with my customers. It is why I enjoy it so much.”

Independent shops, like Mr Rayner’s are the lifeblood of the town. “I like Ipswich,” he said, “I worked here in the 70s and 80s and the people are very friendly.

“They like to look good and hopefully I can help them with clothes they don’t find anywhere else.

“It is a busy time when you work for yourself. I will be working 37 consecutive days right up until Christmas.”

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