T-shirts of memories

T-SHIRT printing took on a new significance for sisters Wendy Fox and Tracy Whittington after they lost their mum to cancer.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 22nd May 2012, 9:16 am

They started printing T-shirts for Race for Life, the big annual fundraiser organised by Cancer Research UK, at the family DIY business Machin’s in Worksop.

The sisters work in the shop with their dad Edwin and have taken part in Race for Life themselves, along with their daughters.

Their mum Janet was 66 when she lost her battle with lung cancer three years ago.

Wendy, 48, said: “The first time we all did it we had Machin’s Marchers on our T-shirts and there were nine of us doing it.”

“It was very emotional and we raised several hundred pounds.”

Tracy’s daughters Kirsty, 19, and Jemma, 16, and Wendy’s daughter Rebecca, 22, will be running again at Clumber Park this year.

Tracy, 45, said: “We were already doing T-shirt printing before, for occasions like hen and stag nights, but after doing the Race for Life we decided to do them for that as well.”

“Customers can bring in their own T-shirt and then we can print a photo of their loved one on it, or writing.”

T-shirt printing is just one of the ways which Machin’s has adapted to the challenging retail market.

Although, since the store was opened in 1949 by Edwin’s father Joe, it has weathered several recessions in its history. A testament to its loyal customer base.

Machin’s started on Gateford Road but around 1954 moved to its current address on Watson Road.

Wendy said: “DIY is still our main line of business but over the years we’ve added other services like supplying solid fuel spares and picture framing which keeps us busy.”

“When the solid fuel spares go quiet in the summer, the T-shirt printing becomes busier, so seasonally it works very well.”

“We started doing T-shirts about five years ago and it was hard work in the beginning because we had no formal training other than two hours with the young man who brought the machine.”

“We’re a lot happier with it now though!”

Joe died in 1972 which is when the shop was taken over by Edwin and his brother Cecil, helped by their mum Mary who was “chief cook and bottle washer” according to Wendy and Tracy.

They live in Worksop and are loyal to the town.

“There is a lot of competition in DIY but we stay positive about the business and it’s keeping three of us in a job,” said Tracy.

She said they decided to diversify into T-shirt printing after a copy shop closed on Watson Road and they started to get enquiries from its previous customers.

Edwin’s years of DIY knowledge and experience are what keep many customers coming back to Machin’s.

“People often want to ask his advice on something and he’s particularly good on wooden flooring. The older generation always want to talk to him,” said Wendy.

“He’s always done a lot of DIY, I don’t think there’s a room in his entire house that he hasn’t done.”

*Race for Life will be at Clumber on 21st and 22nd July.