By Bev Jordan
Trying to have a chat with Mike Samson is a fascinating exercise as every sentence is punctuated by people keen to say hello to the man who has been an integral part of Winston Hills for nearly four decades.
He opened his Mike Samson clothing business at Winston Hills Mall 37 years ago but sadly, for his devoted customers, the mall’s longest serving tenant has decided to hang up his jacket and retire at the end of March
People were shocked when the Closing Down sale sign went up a few weeks ago but retirement has been on Mike’s mind since he underwent open heart surgery two years ago.
“I have had a lot of health problems and I need new knees but no-one will operate.” He also suffers from arthritis and at 77, he feels it is the right time to retire after almost a lifetime in Men’s fashion.
“I started working in a bank when I left school,“ he said.
While he was at the bank he was approached by a local shopkeeper to help out on Saturday mornings to keep an eye on the stock and so his fascination with retail started.
He left the bank after seven years because he didn’t want the constant moves from branch to branch so accepted a job in a local menswear store and managed the head office.
He then moved into men’s wholesale for five years but the lure of retail was great.
“I wanted to open up a shop,” he told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News. “I lived in Parramatta at the time and (Winston Hills) was only up the road and I thought I could make it work.”
He was joined 26 years ago by Greg Formby, a men’s clothing rep, who came to say goodbye. “I asked him where he was going to work and he didn’t know so he started to work for me.
“Greg is a great person, a great salesman and a huge part of the shop’s history.”
Mike and his wife Denise have four children and three grandchildren and spending more time with family is top of the retirement wish list. Seeing Parramatta Eels do well is also on the list.
“My customers love coming in and talking about Parramatta,” he laughs.
As a member of St Patrick’s Parramatta, he has been involved in the church community and also the schools his children attended.
He said his family migrated from Lebanon just after World War 2 and said people were always kind.
“People are very caring of me. If you make people feel good they will return.”
He said the COVID period has been hard but thanked his customers and Centre Management for their support.
“It was hard but we were given rental assistance by Centre Management which was a great help as we wouldn’t have survived (this long.)
“He says 85 per cent of his customers are regulars.” He says classic items such as, a navy or pinstripe suits never go out of fashion.
His secret to success in business, home and community is listening, and making people welcome.
Mike Samson Clothier is shop 21 at Winston Hills Mall. Call 9674 4237.