02:30PM, Friday 22 November 2019
A couple retiring from their role at a Maidenhead convenience store after nearly 20 years have said they ‘took a big gamble and it has paid off’.
Sonny Thakor, 61, and wife Neelam, 59, have been running Belmont Stores, in Belmont Road, since 2000 but have decided to retire to spend more time with family.
The pair, who originated from Kenya, had never run a business before moving into the corner shop, but were looking for somewhere to educate their children in Maidenhead after moving from Slough after the millennium.
After their last day on
Saturday, the shop will be closed until shortly after Christmas for a refurbishment.
It will be re-opened by brothers-in-law JD Volland and Jackie Rodrigues, and Sonny said it will be ‘bigger and brighter’ but remain as a store to serve the community.
Sonny and Neelam plan to spend more time with their family, which has grown from their children – Rishi, 29, and Natasha Jadav, 32, and son-in-law Niraj, to grandchildren.
Sonny told the Advertiser: “We have had the most wonderful time. The people are so friendly.
“We looked at [the store] and thought: we could run this. We never had businesses before. We took a big gamble and it has paid off.
“It is such hard work initially, and if the people had not have been so nice, we would never have lasted this long. We would have gone ages ago.
“But people are so nice – we have made friends here now, we have seen kids grow up.”
On the couple’s plans for their retirement, Sonny added they want to ‘join a few local clubs’ and ‘spend time with the grandchildren’.
“And bump into our old friends and customers,” he added.
It has been an emotional last few days for Sonny and Neelam, who have had people come into the store to say their farewells.
Halloween night saw loyal customers pose for photos with the pair inside the store.
“It is the right time to go – we have done our 20 years,” Sonny said.
“We would like to thank all of our friends and customers over the years. It has been wonderful serving them.”
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