East Devon army surplus store owner adds 100-year-old shop to his empire

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A forces veteran who runs two outlets in east and south Devon has bought an iconic Army surplus shop and has vowed to keep it open for another 100 years.

Gould’s Outdoors on Ebrington Street, Plymouth has been running since the early 1900s, and now, after its previous owners retired, the business has been snapped up by Laurie McConochie.

Laurie, who served in the Royal Navy as a naval rating, remembers the first time he stepped foot in Gould’s over 40 years ago to buy some supplies.

The 62-year-old said: “I found out that Gould’s was up for sale through a mutual sales rep who supplies both Gould’s and our stores; I couldn’t let it close.

“Gould’s in itself is an institution and we would have been sad to see it go; it’s a bit of a living museum for those that know it and we are going to preserve that.

“Who would have thought from the first time I came here 40 years ago that I would own it now.”

Laurie likes to think of himself as more of a custodian of the shop, and plans to re-stock the shelves as well as adding optics into the mix; binoculars, telescopes and night vision goggles can also be found amongst the historic supplies.

Laurie, who got into the army selling trade after a stint as an electrician, already owns two other surplus shops in Totnes and Seaton.

The Lyme Regis resident won’t be changing Gould’s name either; the business still remains as family run by Laurie, who plans to pass it down.

The outdoor clothing, accessory and military surplus store had been advertised with a leasehold price-tag of £45,000.

Frederick Gould founded Gould’s Outdoors in the early 1900s and they had outlets in various parts of Plymouth.

In 1955 they moved into their present building on Ebrington Street, next door to what is now the Common Room coffee shop.

Its unique facade still remains, and as can been seen throughout much of the street, old shopfronts have been retained.

The sale was completed on December 4 and the shop is open for business.


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