Son of much-loved shopkeeper to keep running family hardware store after father’s death

Clarence Hardware Store has been an important part of the Grangetown community since it was first opened in 1959

THE son of a much-loved shopkeeper at Cardiff’s oldest independent hardware store will continue to run it after his father’s death.

Martyn Thomas, who owns the shop, lost his dad Ronnie on February 6 after complications relating to bowel cancer. For 10 years Ronnie was also sole carer for his wife, Janet Thomas, who is in a care home with dementia.

The community in Grangetown has offered up hundreds of tributes to Mr Thomas, both on social media and in person.

“We had loads and loads of people coming by to wish us all the best, condolences, to give us a hug, drop flowers off, drop cards off,” said Martyn.

From left to right: Leslie (Ronnie’s brother), Martyn (Ronnie’s son), and Ronnie (Credit: Helen Leyshon)

Martyn has been working at the store for much of his life and says that while the store remains busy, like many independent shops its financial situation has varied with the economy.

“I’ve been doing it for 36 years already, so as long as my drive is still here and my health is still with me then so be it, as long as it’s financially viable,” he said.

Clarence Hardware Store has been running for 65 years and still has some customers from when it was first established.

Ronnie became joint-owner of the store with his business partner Andrea Kay in 1987, after buying out his friend Mr Trevor J Parker, who had originally opened the shop.

From left to right: Leslie, Ronnie and Martyn. Credit: Clarence Hardware Store.

Mr Thomas and his father then became business partners for five years, before his son bought him out so that he would be able to retire.

“Bless him he just couldn’t do it anymore,” said Martyn.

Ronnie was one of nine children and came from a very poor family who lived in a small house in the forest just outside of Cowbridge.

“When you get people that have come from very humble beginnings they want to make sure that they do better, they want their children to have better,” said Martyn.

  • The funeral for Ronnie Thomas will be held at 12pm on March 8 at Cardiff and Glamorgan crematorium and anyone who wishes to pay their respects is welcome to attend.