Car parts salesman retiring after three decades

Chris Price, 65, is retiring after running Cromer Car Parts for 27 years.

Chris Price, 65, is retiring after running Cromer Car Parts for 27 years. - Credit: Alan Palmer Photography

If your car was missing a part, Chris Price was your man.

No part was too rare to track down. A 50-amp hand-wired fuse for a Ford Capri? A Wallace and Gromit sun-shade? 

Mr Price would find it.  

Cromer Car Parts

Cromer Car Parts, on Garden Street, officially closes on December 22. - Credit: Google Maps

Indeed, he once even sorted out parts for an amphibious vehicle helping repair Cromer Pier after it was sliced in two by a runaway rig in 1993.

And if he didn’t have what you needed, it would be there by Thursday.  

But now, after 27 years running his shop Cromer Car Parts on Garden Street, only a stone’s throw from the sea, Mr Price, 65, is retiring.  

Originally from Coalville in Leicestershire, he started working in the motor trade when he was 15-years-old.

"My mother had found me a job in a clothing boutique and I thought I don't want to work there so I went up to the local Austin dealership," Mr Price says.

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"I didn't fancy the idea of tank-tops and flares."

He later worked as parts manager for Chrysler UK and then ran a factory.

In the meantime, he and his family would come to Cromer for their summer holidays, where they had a caravan, and they often spoke about how they would like to retire in the town.

The busy Cromer beach on the hottest day of the summer so far. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Cromer Beach in July 2020 - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Instead of waiting until he was older, Mr Price decided to move there well in advance of pension age.

"I brought my wife and kids here while they were still young, because I thought if I wait until I'm 55, the family won't all live in the same place."

While on holidays in the town, he had spotted an opportunity for the retail of car parts.

So in 1994, the family moved to north Norfolk. At the same time Mr Price still had the factory in Leicestershire and after two years of going backwards and forwards between the two, he sold the factory.

Chris Price, 65, outside his shop Cromer Car Parts on Garden Street.

Chris Price, 65, outside his shop Cromer Car Parts on Garden Street. It closes officially on December 22. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

For the first 10 years business at the shop got better and better. "Then after that, you get to a plateau and it has sat on that plateau ever since," says Mr Price.

He had decided to open the shop in a pedestrian area because it was the second busiest street in the town, with people streaming to the beach every day.

"I've been very pleased with it. It's given me a living.

"When somebody comes in and says they can't find a part anywhere, and you find it for them, you get satisfaction out of that."

One summer everybody wanted a Wallace and Gromit sunshade. "They were difficult to get and I told people I had an order coming in at a certain time. It was the only time I had a queue at the shop." 

For the first 18 years, Mr Price worked seven days a week. Then he went down to six days and for the last year he has "treated" himself to a five-day week.

The shop's official last day is December 22 but Mr Price is hoping to have finished up by this Friday (December 17).

So, 27 years after first moving to the town to retire, he has finally reached that point.

"I've got to the wish that I wanted and I'm really looking forward to the next stage. I want to investigate the area, places like Wells, where I never had the time to go.

"I want to walk to the beach and potter around. I want to get out there and enjoy myself."

Christ Price outside Cromer Car Parts

Chris Price, who has run Cromer Car Parts for 27 years, is looking forward to his retirement after the shop closes on December 22. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Chris' top tips for looking after your car

"Keep it serviced and keep it clean," he says.

"I always do a service before the MOT every year. It's better to have the little jobs done early, because if you don't, they all build up and it can become very expensive.

"Rather than waiting, get the little jobs done as they come along."

Strange requests through the years

"I've had some weird ones, I've had people asking for fish.

"A chap came in for some herring one day. I said, 'Herring?' and he said, 'Yeah, fish?"

"I've had people ask for pipes for washing machines.

"One woman asked for an electric razor and I told it was shop for car parts. She said car parts are man things so she thought I might sell electric razors, too, because men use those."

Electric car charging

Electric car charging - Credit: Robert Nickelsberg Getty Images

Impact of electric cars

"My opinion on electric cars is I don't think they'll be great until there is a way of standardising batteries so you can go to a battery exchange rather than having to charge your car.

"We would have battery stations instead of petrol stations.

"If you go to a battery station, you turn up and take one off and then put another one on.     

"The main thing is making them easily accessible. Within ten minutes you could be off and going again.

"This could be a brilliant system because the biggest concern people have is how far can I get on this?"