After 32 years in the business, Sherazad silk store owner Anoop Bedi is closing up shop, but what he'd really like to see is the store taken over.
Sherazad, now in the BNZ Centre in Willis St, has had multiple Wellington locations over the years, including Lambton Quay and Manners Mall, but Bedi, 76, says he is now ready to retire.
He moved to New Zealand from India in 1968 as a scientist with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, specialising in potato growing.
He opened the first Sherazad shop with his wife in Christchurch in 1982.
"We started a string of shops up and down the country and this proved to be a huge undertaking. When the Labour government came in, our profits went out the door so we had to close our shops but kept the Wellington one going."
Bedi says he has enjoyed many highlights with Sherazad, including supplying fabrics for The Lord of the Rings films.
The films' costume designer Ngila Dickson "very gingerly came to the shop one day not knowing what she really wanted".
"She bought a few samples, took it back to the studio and sure enough early the next morning she was the first customer and she was buying big.
"I couldn't believe it, we kept buying stuff out of India for her requirements for about 14 months non-stop."
Bedi says that predicting what colours would be in fashion the following season became an important part of the business.
"When we moved into Manners Mall in 1993 suddenly everybody wanted the colour bottle green, I couldn't believe it, it's almost black. But we kept ordering and ordering, we could barely keep up with demand, that was the first trend that really stuck me."
Bedi has enjoyed the interaction with hundreds of brides to be and mothers of the bride, which he says was amusing at times.
"I remember once in Lambton Quay a mother came with the cheque book and, although the daughter would hardly let her talk, she was still there to support her in every way and this is remarkable.
"I've definitely learnt that it's not diamonds that are girls' best friends, it's the mothers."
Bedi says he is looking forward to spending time with his wife and grandchildren when he retires but will miss the interaction and satisfaction of his customers.
"It's the smiles and people have even gone out of their way to bring flowers, photographs and chocolates as a token of thank you, it's not every day people say thank you like that."
Sherazad currently has a sale to prepare for its closing on March 31.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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