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Army & Navy Stores up for sale after 93 years
YORK’S Army & Navy Stores, which was founded in 1919, is up for sale as its owners retire.
The Fossgate-based business, owned by brothers David and Michael Storey, aged 71 and 76, was set up by their grandfather, Herbert Frances Storey, and is popular with tourists and local customers for its old-world feel.
The store, adorned with old photos and fittings and which still uses its original long wooden counter, was used to film a scene from TV show Heartbeat in 2002.
David Storey said they, and their father Arthur John Storey before them, have changed little about the property, which gradually grew over three units, dating back to the 1600s and 1700s.
He said Army & Navy stores were often mistaken for a chain, but the amount of army surplus following the Second World War led many independent shops to open.
“After the Second World War, there were mountains of army surplus so we sold nothing else. Everybody wore the gear and that flourished until well into the 1960s, and then it started to dry up a bit. Now there’s no army surplus at all.”
The business diversified as the market changed, selling outdoor gear and diving equipment as well as selling overalls to trade, at one point supplying York’s largest businesses, such as Rowntrees.
With the farming community also shrinking, David said they were trying hard to make a living against large retailers.
“We could have modernised, but we have kept the museum effect because the tourists like it and our customers like it. A lot of people have told us not to change it,” he said. “We would like to see somebody buy it and carry it on.”
Behind the scenes, the lack of interference in the Grade II-listed building means shelves made from 1930s packing crates still stretch across original Victorian fireplaces and wallpaper, leaving an image of how its previous inhabitants would have lived.
Part of the roof, up shaky stairs, has the original beams made at the Minster Yard, and down wooden ladder-style steps, the cellars still feature the stone sinks used when part of the premises was previously a butchers, which was based in one of the three units.
The business, which employs two full-time and four part-time staff, is up for sale for about £49,000 through agency Clifford Lax.