Our Family Business - 59 years and still trading!! Reg Roach, proprietor of High Street Radio and Photographic, 294 High Street, Croydon, began his retail career in 1959. Now in his 59th year of trading (and still going) Reg has survived the encumbrances of recessions, rent increases and, more recently, the onslaught of internet trading. Thanks in no small part to the support of his many loyal customers . With his wife Pat, Reg took over High Street Radio from his employer at their original premises two doors away at number 290. Securing dealerships for Roberts, Sony, Philips, Grundig, etc they began building their business. Paul, their eldest son, was born in the early sixties and, when old enough, became a valuable addition to the business.
In the late sixties the now prestigious Bang and Olufsen company were looking for outlets in the UK. Always up for a challenge, Reg applied and became one of the country’s first B&O dealers.
The early seventies heralded a royal wedding and stimulated a consumer rush to buy colour TV’s to watch it. The modern electrical age was born, unfortunately sets were less reliable than today’s equipment and frequently required attention. Reg and Pat saw another business opportunity and opened an additional shop at 294 calling it High Street TV Services Ltd. This was dedicated service centre, employing John Goldsmith as chief technician together with 4 engineers.
The late seventies recession and much higher rents took its toll and High Street Radio at 290 was closed and amalgamated within 294 under the same banner - High Street Radio.
In the early eighties Reg incorporated photography into the business and became a Leica Specialist Dealer. High Street Radio and Photographic was born. Over the years Reg’s detailed and expert knowledge has become legendary, earning him well deserved respect in this field.
The B&O side expanded rapidly and in the mid eighties an opportunity to open a dedicated “Bang & Olufsen Centre” when the shop next door (292) became vacant. Paul, Pat and new employee Ian Eddolls along with service engineer John Goldsmith moved into these premises with Reg popping in and out to oversee things. Times were good.
Another recession in the early nineties and policy changes at Bang and Olufsen meant Reg and Paul had to relinquish the B&O concession and concentrate their energies on trading mainly in photographic equipment at 294 only. At this juncture Ian Eddolls who had been offered a job at the premier Bang & Olufsen shop in London took it. John was made redundant and Pat decided to retire from the spotlight of the shop. Reg & Paul continued, now specialising in new Leica equipment and new and second hand high quality photographic equipment of all makes. The only radio dealership they retained was Roberts Radios.
Business was getting tougher with the photographic industry selling digital cameras to EVERY outlet from the largest superstore to the internet, where all customers wanted was the cheapest deal. The industry had changed, Reg and Paul were finding it much more difficult to compete on prices of new equipment and decided to concentrate their efforts on the second hand and the collectors market where people appreciated the specialist knowledge that Reg and Paul had acquired over the years.
Christmas 2001 found Reg (now 70 years young) diagnosed with bowel cancer and heart problems. He was admitted to hospital for several weeks. These were dark days for the family, Pat by his side throughout and Paul keeping the business running as well as visiting everyday. The flowers and get well messages flooded in from friends and customers alike and thankfully after several traumatic months Reg made a full recovery and returned to the business.
During the next few years, the expansion of internet trading meant they had to adapt and revise the products they sold. Policies and demands of being a Leica dealer were also too much for them and so Reg lost his beloved Leica dealership. Reg and Paul now concentrated on selling, pre-owned Leica and other classic second hand film equipment along with new Roberts Radios.
Tuesday 30th September 2014. Hollywood Superstar Kevin Costner films a scene for his movie 'Criminal', directed by Ariel Vromen at High Street Radio & photographic (how surreal is that!!). 6 weeks earlier Reg and Paul were approached by Location Manager Mark Grimwade of Millennium Films. He had been to several businesses in Croydon looking for suitable shop to turn into a Pawn Shop, but none of them looked the part. He took pictures and sent them to the director, who loved what he saw. A few days later a huge coach containing 32 members of the team, including director Ariel Vromen descended on them. The deal was sealed. So on Monday 29th September, they arrived at the shop to be greeted by their personal security man Andy, who said he'd be with them for the next 2 days. The set designers and dressers soon followed and spent the next 7 hours laying out the shop. Tuesday 30th September, 60 plus crew, several huge vans, Director Ariel Vromen and Kevin Costner appeared. They scene took 6 hours to shoot and towards the end of the filming a huge crowd gathered on the other side of the High Street. Kevin acknowledged them with a wave and cameras snapped. He then jumped into his waiting car and sped off. The day was over. WAS IT A DREAM SEQUENCE OR WAS IT REAL? - IT WAS REAL - THEY HAVE PICTURES!
Back to reality and ........ Today Reg at the age of 87 years young and five decades behind him can still be found in his now familiar place behind the counter of this family business. Paul at his side, although he can more often be found on the computer attending to the internet side of the business as they continue to bring that personal touch to buying a classic camera or modern DAB radio.
How many other family businesses have adapted to the modern world. Had an 'A' list Hollywood Star filming in their shop and are still trading after 59 years?
Watch "Uncle Reg" & Paul on YouTube shot by a local film maker Rebecca Richards
Kevin Costner star of Hollywood movie CRIMINAL shot a scene for the movie in the shop on the 30/09/14
The director Ariel Vroman fell in love the classic style & decor of the shop
Picture shows (left to right) Ariel Vroman, Reg Roach, Kevin Costner. Pat Roach, Paul Roach