Wodonga's Fogarty Jewellers shutting doors after 23 years, but watchmaker will still have a business presence in city

Timed out: Michael and Glenda Fogarty are closing their High Street shop after 25 years of trading in Wodonga. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE
Timed out: Michael and Glenda Fogarty are closing their High Street shop after 25 years of trading in Wodonga. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

WODONGA'S lone watchmaker is clocking off from High Street but that does not mean it’s retirement time.

Michael Fogarty has decided to have his own sliding doors moment, swapping his shopfront for a mobile van.

Fogarty Jewellers, which has been part of Wodonga’s main shopping strip, since 1994 will shut for the last time in the middle of this year.

Mr Fogarty and his wife Glenda, who also works in the store, had been pondering a change in work practice for some time.

“It’s a lifestyle change to give ourselves a bit of flexibility,” Mr Fogarty said.

The move will result in Mr Fogarty setting up the van at a site in Wodonga two days a week and doing trade jobs at his home workshop.

“A friend gave us the idea of the van, he said it would be a really good idea,” Mr Fogarty said.

“We both laughed at it, but then we thought about it a bit more and thought it’s a really good idea.

“It’s different, it’s moving with the times and giving us flexibility which is what we’re after.”

The Fogartys relocated from Kerang with their four children, taking over a shop previously housing watchmaker Simon Rendich.

Mr Fogarty had done his watchmaking apprenticeship in the north central Victorian town.

He says word of mouth has driven the business and the affection of clients was apparent with the response to the shop shutting.

“The loyalty that people have shown and how lovely they are,” Mr Fogarty said when asked what he had enjoyed about his time in High Street.

“It’s come to the fore with our closing down sale, we’ve had customers, and people who have never been in here before, saying ‘it’s sad’.”

Mr Fogarty says the switch from parallel to angle parking had been the biggest change in High Street and he said it had boosted trade.

He was adamant that planned pedestrian-friendly alterations to the thoroughfare had “absolutely nothing to do” with moving on.

As for the future of watches, in a world where smart phones have become de facto timepieces, Mr Fogarty is certain they’re here to stay.

“There was a point maybe three years ago where the watch industry found it difficult,” he said.

“The younger generation and even the older generation were using their phones, but it’s swung back and people are still buying watches, a lot of them are fashion accessories.

“I think the male species generally are becoming more aware of how they look.

“There is still a need to have watches repaired because there is sentimentality with them, they are handed down through the generations.”