Big send-off for couple after 42 years selling yarn in Northampton’s Market Square

Tony and Sandra Kennell retire from Tony & Sandra's Yarn Bar
Tony and Sandra Kennell retire from Tony & Sandra's Yarn Bar

A couple who have retired after 42 years of trading in Northampton’s Market Square have said how much they would like to thank all their customers for an “absolutely lovely” time.

Regular customers and other market traders came together for a special send-off to mark Tony and Sandra Kennell’s last day running the weekly Tony and Sandra’s Yarn Bar, selling an extensive range of knitting and craft products.

Over the years we have seen new generations of the same families and they have become friends

Sandra Kennell

The Leicester couple, who are also celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary today, were presented with champagne, silver tankards and flowers, before setting off for a well-deserved weekend for two in Torquay.

Mrs Kennell, aged 71, said: “We had an amazing day with all our customers and we cannot thank them enough.

“Over the years we have seen new generations of the same families and they have become our friends.

“If there is one legacy we would like to have left, it’s helping people to learn new skills. We don’t just sell yarn and wool, but we give people tips and advice on patterns, and we have even had people bring in their paint charts for help in picking out colours so they can make things to match their home.”

The pair met when Sandra was 14 and Tony was 17 at a dance and now have one daughter, Antonia. She was three years old when she started coming to Northampton with her parents and playing under the tables at the stall, but is now 45 and working in Hong Kong.

Mr Kennell, now aged 74, originally started the business before his wife joined him from her own trading business in Leicester 10 years ago and, in all that time, he has only taken two days off sick.

He said: “I was an engineer repairing fridges in my previous life, but I felt I needed a change and got the idea from a friend of Sandra’s.

“We can always find what our customers need and have become especially popular with people from Europe who are used to different types on yarn and needles. We find what they need but also help them get used to the local products.”

Crochet expert, Mrs Kennell, said: “It has been great to see a resurgence of knitting and crafts in the last few years, especially among youngsters and women in their twenties.

“It was the 90s that were terribly tough, when women started to become more career-driven and had less leisure time for things like this, but it can be very therapeutic and is still such a valuable skill.

“This is our passion and coming here has been absolutely lovely. This really is a brilliant market and it has been a sheer pleasure serving its visitors.”