One of the most iconic shops in York for the last 20 years will be closed within a month.
The Banana Warehouse on Piccadilly, home to furniture, bric-a-brac, and pretty much anything else you can think of, will sell its last bargain on May 6, 2016.
Owner Dave Dee Hughes was told on Wednesday (April 6) by the agents acting for the landlords that they were giving him a month’s notice to move out.
He said that other buildings on the street have also been given the same notice, including Advance Computers and the Pine Showroom and the antiques centre above it.
“We were hoping for at least six months’ notice. Three months would be fine – but a month?” Dave said.
“I’m going to find it hard to try and clear the building in four weeks.
“I’ve got about 250 tons of household furniture that I’m going to have to try and part with.”
And that’s only the half of it.
“I’ve got chest of drawers, dressing tables, tools, toys… I must have two tons of records – LPs. I must have five tons of books.”
Dave said he wasn’t prepared for the news. “No inkling at all. It came out of the blue. They came round to us today to give us our notice. We’re giving you a month – we want you out by the 6th of May.
“After then they’re going to charge us extra money, and if there’s anything left they’re going to charge us for tipping it.
“It’s a bit heartbreaking after 20-odd years keeping the building for one owner or another. We’ve had about maybe eight different owners in that length of time.”
Dave said he originally took on the warehouse – one of the first buildings to be built on Piccadilly in 1925 – for one year. Then various owners asked him to stay on to keep the building from becoming derelict.
The plan is to keep the facade of the original building, knock down the rest, and build more than 30 flats and two shops on the site. Dave called that plan was “superb – just what it wants… but there are four other businesses beside me”.
As news about the end of the Banana Warehouse spread “loads of people have been contacting us on the internet, and saying we’re sorry, we’ve been coming there for years.
“I expected it to close. I just didn’t expect it to come so quickly, that’s all.
“I’m happy to go, and for them to modernise Piccadilly in a sensitive sort of way – it will be fantastic.”
The buildings were owned by the same people who bought the Coppergate Centre, LaSalle – but as YorkMix first revealed, that company went into administration in 2014.
It is believed to be agents acting on behalf of administrators Pricewaterhouse Coopers who are serving notice on the businesses.
Carry on trading
Dave Dee said he was still going to carry on trading but in “a lot smaller way. I’m going to buy and sell still, but from the back of the van”.
It also means the end to his work donating some of the stock he bought in house clearances to charities.
Dave qualified worked as a motor mechanic for ten years from 1964, before following his father and grandfather into the buying and selling business. Between them the three generations have been in the trade for 65 years.
Dave also owned storage and removals businesses but had closed those businesses and concentrated on the Banana Warehouse.
It’s closure will be the end of an era he said. “They say it’s a legend – I am a legend – well it’s the end of the legend, because I’ve got to retire now.”
Through the years he’s sold almost everything
Everybody who’s had any business in York – from the Hilton Hotel to the Dean Court, schools, the Minster, schools – we’ve had stuff from them all.
We still do a lot for York Theatre Royal. We lend them stuff – ‘we need an Aladdin’s lamp Dave, we need two or three vans of stuff to make the set for Steptoe and Son’.
He has also had his fair share of famous customers, including former James Bond Pierce Brosnan.
“He used to come in borrowing stuff to do theatre shows in the drama barn at York University.
“I lent Ronnie Barker a load of stuff for his shows.”
Dave only has two regrets. “The traffic wardens have taken all my money. Every time you park outside a traffic warden sticks a ticket on.”
And he is not happy about changes to retailing in York city centre. “They’ve ruined it. It’s like a Polo mint – everything’s on the outside and there’s nowt on the inside.”
The end of the Banana Warehouse follows the closure of another long-running shop, Bulmers on Lord Mayor’s Walk, in February.
So, when are the new houses and apartments being built then?
The difference between Bulmers and the Banana Warehouse is that (as I understand it) the Bulmer family owned their own property – Dave Dee doesn’t, he just rents it. This means that, like several other well-established family businesses in York which have recently closed, or are closing, they have found that the value of the property, either in sales value or rental income terms, is probably worth more than their existing businesses are earning ! Why work if you can sit back and count the money ? In Dave Dee’s case he may have been treated shoddily by his landlords (or their agents) but that is what happens on short leases with, presumably, no legally agreed period of termination ? Maybe Dave will move back further out of town to where he came from ? I hope he does !
The desk on which my computer stands and where I am reading this, and on which I have written four novel;s and two collections of poetry came from the Banana Warehouse. This is indescribably sad.