Famous hat shop for sale after sudden death

KOREN ALLPRESS
Last updated 05:00 03/07/2014
ann withington
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
HANGING UP HER HAT: Ann Withington in her Dipton store Something Very Special which sells a variety of hats, bags and clothing.

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For Ann Withington, Dipton will always be Something Very Special.

But after the sudden death of her husband Collin, she is selling their business and returning to Wales.

Yesterday, standing in their store called Something Very Special, she thanked Dipton residents for their support.

"I could stay here and cope, but I think it's the best thing to get back," she said. "I just want to walk away now with a suitcase. I'm leaving everything, the dishes, everything, it's just too hard, if I could do that I'd be very happy."

In the tiny rural township, the couple's vibrant hat shop delivered a splash of colour to the main street.

They brought their then five-year-old business from Tirau to Dipton in 2009.

"From the start everybody came, it was as good as Tirau but without the expenses."

They received a huge welcome from Dipton residents. "I know it looks like a small community ... but there's a lot to do if you want to do it," she said. "Collin was a bit of a golfer, and the golf club got us involved, there's a garden club, a photography club.

"All of the locals were very supportive [of the business], passing the word on."

The shop specialises in fashion accessories and attracted customers from far and wide.

"I've had Australian people say ‘I've heard about this shop' - it's quite amazing."

Clutha-Southland MP and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, one of area's best-known residents, had dropped by to say hello but never bought a hat.

The Withingtons had been married for 34 years and now she is feeling the pull of family back home.

Once the business is sold she will return to Wales.

"I will hugely miss Dipton. Fate is a funny thing," she said.

"You just don't know what's going to happen."

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- The Southland Times

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