One of the town’s most popular clothing and home décor department stores, Utah, in Society Street, are celebrating 10 years of business this winter season. The store was set up in late 2008 at the beginning of the economic crisis by 47-year-old Val Colleran from Beagh, who has over 30 years’ experience in the retail sector. The shop now employs 8 staff members from the local area.
At the age of 17, Val began his working life in the old Londis supermarket on Society Street. During the 90’s he managed several Penny’s stores throughout Ireland and the U.K. After leaving the popular retail chain, he went on to manage the very successful midland based department stores ‘Texas’. Utah started off in Marina Point in a 2000 sq. ft. premises with only 2 staff members. With the success of Marina Point and customer demand, Val needed to expand his business. Once the opportunity arose to open a new 10,000 sq. ft premises on Society Street in 2011, where the old Central Cinema once was, he took it with no hesitation. The expansion allowed Val to stock a diverse and exclusive range of products while not losing the street value ethos Utah carries, and helped him create five new jobs for locals. Val says that starting his own business in Ballinasloe was a no-brainer. “We live and work in a great business town with a catchment area of over 14,000 houses. I want to be part of the town’s resurgence and help bring it back to the ‘go to town’ of the midlands like it once was.
Ballinasloe desperately needed a department store to compete with other neighbouring towns, and that’s where I got the idea of Utah. “I noticed a market for top brands at discounted prices, where I travelled all over Europe to top fashion houses to get the best deals on all clothing products. We now have extensive ranges in men’s, ladies’ and children’s fashion and footwear, along with outdoor clothing, curtains, blinds and bedding. Our store also offers a call out measuring and fitting service for blinds and curtains. ‘Value Val’s’ Bargain Basement offers up to 75% off all fashion brands all year round”. Coming from a family of ten, Val’s late father Bill (who ran a successful wood mill business off Main St.) and some siblings also have/had businesses in town such as An Táin Bar (Ger Colleran), The Bread Basket Café (Martina Reynolds), and Tranquility Beauty Clinic (Olivia Kelly). Setting up a business in Ballinasloe is a good idea once it’s done right according to Val. “To start a business, you must identify a niche that you love, and that people can/will benefit from and pay their hardearned money for. Be ready to invest 24/7 in the initial few years and go beyond the expectations of your customer. Never be the bad guy, always love your customers and your staff, as they say you get what you give. Create a business plan that you can work on, and never thrash it, just stick to it”.
Utah wouldn’t be open today without all the support they have received says Val. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our loyal customers for the last ten successful years and hope to serve you for the next ten and beyond. “A big thank you also to my loyal staff team (Cathy, Bridget, Vera, Brenda, Tammie, Conor and Liam) for the hard work and commitment they have shown over the past couple of years, and to my wife Kellie and two sons Fadlán and Éanna for their patience”. Utah opens from 9am – 6pm from Monday to Saturday and will remain so throughout the Town Enhancement Work on Society Street
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