Bernie Quayle
Early Career Choices

During my last year at St. Ninian's High School, 1957, it was anticipated by both parents that, like my brother,  I would join the family firm of Callister and Quayle.  I did show some aptitude towards carpentry and still enjoy a spot of DIY to this day, but I had other ideas. The assistant manager of F W Woolworth in Strand Street Douglas was Stan Wilson and he had been staying with my Aunty May Quayle at Mere Hall on Loch Prom.  I'd met him on a number of occasions and Stan convinced me to go for a career as trainee manager with Woolies and my parents were quite happy with my choice of career.

I  was due to sit my GCEs in June that year but the trainee job became vacant just before Easter and my application was accepted, despite having no exam results. Manager, Jack Harrison was so helpful in getting me started, but I had to start at the very bottom and learn the business inside out.  
Training began with stock room management and as the junior, I was expected to sweep the old wooden sales floors just before closing time.  Pride took a terrible tumble when my mates spotted me in a brown duster coat with brush in hand - "Hey Bernie, thought you were a trainee manager!"

It wasn't until the following summer that I got to don my best suit and parade up and down as a "floorwalker." Pictured right, in my very first business suit with Mum & Terry.
Following basic training managing departments, I was transferred to to High St. Belfast, one of Woolworth's busiest stores.  A year later, it was Church St. Liverpool to the very first store that Frank Winfield Woolworth opened in Britain.  It was a tough life with 10 hour days, 6 days a week on very low pay and grotty digs.
I envied the sales reps who used to visit the store selling their wares.  I'd be taken out 
to lunch in their company cars and made to wonder why I was slogging my guts out for a fraction of what they were earning.  I'd been telling the rep for Mackintosh's confectionary
(makers of Quality Street, Rolo etc) about my plight and he informed me there was a jobcoming up in the Manchester area.  I applied, got the job, the car  and the expense account. I was now a "commercial traveller."

I moved to Manchester in 1961, Mackintosh's put me up in a commercial hotel for a month while I found digs.
The sales manager then struck on the idea of making me the company's "floating rep,"  one who could go to
any area of the company and take over the work of a rep off sick or on holiday.  For two years, I literally lived out of a suitcase, with no permanent address, I clocked up almost 50 different addresses in those two years, most 
of which were commercial hotels or B&Bs.  It was a great experience travelling the length and breadth of the 
British Isles but very tiring.

My old school chum, Malcolm Curphey was in the accounts department of Bear Brand Hosiery and told me the company needed an additional rep in the London area.  It offered better pay, better car and other perks. I got the job and moved to London, and what a time to be there - the swinging sixties pop scene was really taking off in a big way.
My first three months with Bear Brand were spent in their show rooms in Conduit Street, less than a hundred yards from Carnaby Street and most of my lunchtimes were spent there - literally.  

Mrs Ford, the very dynamic owner of Bear Brand, stopped me one day in the showroom, she thought I was inappropriately dressed.  She advised me to pop down the road to see her husband's tailor in Saville Row.  
I couldn't believe my luck.

A Saville Row suit was like a badge of honour for an aspiring young business 
man, and I have to say it was the best suit I ever owned.  The picture at the very 
top of this page was for Bear Brand and I'm wearing that suit, but there was a 
snag.  I had naively thought that Bear Brand was paying for the suit as Mrs Ford 
had sent me to the tailors!  I had to borrow the money to pay for it which cost
me about three months salary.  One of the fun sides to the job was driving the
six foot company teddy bear to big London stores in Mrs Ford's Rolls Royce.
Parking outside Harrod's you can imagine the looks on peoples faces!

Click to continue