I (the owner Mark ) started my working life with a sports company called Spall Sports way back in 1977 . I left there to work with my father selling shoes and sports clothing on markets throughout Essex and in London . In 1988 I became disheartened with selling footwear and gave the markets up to work with a friend of mine selling wholesale men’s clothing . After a year I missed the markets and decided to sell clothing on Clacton-on-Sea and Nine Elms ( London ) every weekend but stayed at my friends wholesale and manufacture business in the week .
We used to sell a number of items that were one size and had a few items in 2XL . The one size tops which were big and baggy had sold very well for a few years and had been very well liked washing very well for our customers . However one year in the summer at Clacton I had a couple of my very regular happy customers tell me these tops were shrinking . So I had my wife wash one or two of these to test them at above the washing instruction temperatures . The result was that there was no movement at all . I was puzzled why? These people had bought these before and had always been happy with the size quality . Then one of these fellers walked past my stall wearing one of the newer tees I had sold him . It hit me as soon as I saw him . It wasn't the garment shrinking at all, he was getting larger . As with all of us men with age, our bellies tend to grow a little . So the garments were riding up leaving a gap between his trousers and the t-shirt.
Soon I came to the conclusion that a big percentage of my customers were getting larger and the clothes were not suitable in shape or size . I then was sold some tops in 2xl to 5xl which were meant for the U . S Market.
My mind was now doing overtime . I discussed the problems with as many larger people as I could find . I found myself relating my problems to theirs . I'm a tall chap fed up with my tops coming un-tucked and trousers never reaching my shoes .
Then after a couple of years researching my mind was made up to sell the bigger clothing with both mail order and on the markets . I set up in a container on the Blinking Owl's transport cafes grounds . Because I was on the move a lot a customer (Terry) offered help answering the phone . He was disabled, housebound and was about a 5XL . I had the phone diverted to his when I wasn’t able to be available .
Sadly Terry Died August 2000 but it's never been forgotten the way he helped us in the early years . The funny thing is when Essex Radio made our first advert they used the story line of this man called Terry who had been summoned to see his boss about why he came to work naked . His answer was he couldn’t buy clothes in his size . Essex radio didn't know anything about Terry and the characters voice sounded so much like Terry . How spooky is that .
The landlord (Tony) of the site said there was a very small unit he felt would make a good shop in the car park of the café where we could to trade from . I wasn't convinced; I just couldn’t believe that anyone would ever come to shop for clothes in a transport cafes car park . However the rent was £27 a week and Tony gave us a month’s grace . Sizedwell first shop was opened in February 1999 along with a new addition to our staff . John my brother-in-law offered to help . The shop was opened, the web site made and we were off . It was so small you couldn’t swing a cat in it .
John and I established an understanding of the big guy’s problems with clothes . I then called upon my old buddy, who I had worked for before, to make and design some clothes of our own on our size specs . Most of the importers hadn't got a clue to what was needed so we educated them . At first it was very poor but after a massive fire on the site, which we survived, there was a lot of publicity about the site and its fire and how our little shop had escaped the destruction .
Lots of people then came to us at our little base in Rayleigh to the point one Christmas we had a queue of people in their cars waiting for someone to come out of the shop before they could come in . We now needed more room . Our landlord asked the Window firm next door to move to another unit . We were then able to double the size of the shop . It wasn't long before we needed more room for storage and the shop . The Upholsters behind us in the same building then moved on giving us lots more space .
Talking earlier about spooky things, we had a CCTV system fitted with movement detecting cameras and one of the cameras was by a door . Every night the door opened by itself . We had had a combination lock fitted, a few years before the cameras . The lock kept on breaking to the point we gave up on it but thought nothing of it . We also have a Staffordshire bull terrier who sometimes came with me to work . She would not go anywhere near this part of the building to the point where if you tried to carry her she would jump over you shoulder . A few of us felt uneasy when we worked late there . You should have watched the door open - it really freaked you out.
By now we had developed a good web site and this helped us to become well known and there was a sharp rise in sales on the site and in the shop . By 2005 it was clear we were out growing the retail space and storage we had . A search for a new home was on . In July 2006 I found a unit just round the corner in Stadium Way near the Rayleigh Weir .