Local Face: Andrew Gardner

Twenty years ago, Andrew Gardner made a conscious decision to open a menswear shop which would serve the discerning customer. In the most traditional manner, he moved into the Flat above 1, The Tanyard, Tring Road, Wendover and in May 1976, A G Elegant Clothes opened its doors for the first time. Andrew’s serious approach to fulfilling the needs of his customers bore fruit immediately because by 1977 the shop was able to expand into 2, The Tanyard, doubling in size and allowing a greater range of the same high quality clothes as before.

As a young businessman, Andrew worked hard to maintain that role but always found time to support the local Round Table in the small amount of “free” time he could away from work and family.

Early in 1985, Andrew was offered the lease on numbers 3 and 4, The Tanyard so that in March he was able to open a Ladies’ section in his original shop area and devote the remaining three quarters of the shop to Gentlemen’s apparel. Shortly afterwards, Andrew’s wife and business partner, Pat, became involved with the business and has run the Ladies department since 1986. The aim of this department is to provide time-less style, from exclusive European fashion houses, notably Basler, and a fit that will suit the majority of figures. Soon afterwards Andrew started individual charitable ventures. Children in Need inspired Christmas windows with no merchandise, only teddy bears. Posters were placed everywhere to invite local people to attend an auction of the teddies two days before Christmas. A stage was erected outside the shop with the chief auctioneer from the Brown and Merry Tring Auction Rooms ably assisted by Andrew’s friend Dave Lee Travis. The weather was fine, despite the season and £900 was raised for Pudsey.

Again, in June 1988, Andrew used his window for a community gesture. At a loose end for a window display theme the children from Wendover’s Primary Schools were invited to paint pictures of how they imagined Henley and Wimbledon to be. Andrew framed every picture displayed in the window and local artist Gladys Crook judged with head teachers Elizabeth Halfacre and Ivan Pammenter looking on. Individual prizes were given to the winning artists and donations made to the schools.

Andrew knows well that many of his clients ” need to look good every working day and his price range for suits starts just above the Marks and Spencer level. His suppliers are reliable West German and legendary Italian with English Grenson shoes a very fitting accessory.

Since Christmas 1993 Andrew has advertised his pricing policy in his windows and elsewhere. He is confident to guarantee that the price for his range of menswear is lower than any other retailer in the country. This means that his clients are confident to buy throughout the year, not waiting for special reductions or sales because these times have been reduced to the absolute minimum, less than two weeks per season. Andrew is thereby able to offer his clients the highest quality goods with the best service, in pleasant surroundings at the lowest prices.

Last Christmas Wendover Middle School again helped Andrew, this time to design a Christmas Card. 150 Paintings were submitted on the theme “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. The winner of the first day of Christmas was sent to 3.5 thousand worldwide clients. Again, winners and school were rewarded.

The last of the winning entries, the twelfth day of Christmas, will be sent in the year 2007. Where will the artist be then? Andrew intends to still be enjoying selling elegant clothes. He realises full well the challenge of the bypass for High Street retailers but has always maintained that he attracts customers by a combination of good product at the right price delivered with impeccable service.