New England Travel will move across the road after 38 years at the Hutchinson Sewell Building in the mall

IN 1978 Ross Fraser and Graham Wyles graced page seven of The Armidale Express.

The pair has just taken over the management of Ask Mr. Travel, a travel agency in the Hutchinson Sewell building in the mall.

Thirty-eight years later director Craig Ritchie will move New England Travel across the street.

“It’s exciting for us to be able to move into the other building, this has always been a great location but it has been difficult to furnish,” he said.

“The new shop is going to be really nice because we’ll have so much room.”

The building was built by Doug Jackson in 1978 and Mr Fraser and Mr Wyles were foundation tenants.

“It’s had three different owners since then but this building has always been a constant, it will be a bit of a change to move over the road but we’ve had the opportunity to buy that one over there,” Mr Ritchie said.

After he travelled overseas extensively in the late 70’s Mr Ritchie decided travel would be a good business to get into.

“My wife is Scottish so we had an ongoing return to the UK regularly and that’s when I got into the travel business,” he said.

Mr Ritchie took over the business in 1993 and works with co-director Susan Mann who started in 1978 with Mr Fraser and Mr Wyles.

As someone that works predominantly in the sale of leisure it’s fair to say Mr Ritchie’s customers are often in high spirits.

“It’s a great business to be in because you’re dealing largely with people’s leisure time, they’re enjoying themselves and it’s always been that sort of business,” he said.

“Armidale is a really big travelling town, largely because a lot of people come here for the university.

“Most of them come here to work and it means that Armidale probably has around three times the travellers per population than you would have in a town like Tamworth.

“It’s basically an itinerant community.” 

Mr Ritchie estimates the business has sold thousands of trips to the community in the past 38 years.

His clientele are generally generations of families that have lived in the area since the stores’ inception.

“It’s always been multi-generations of the same families dealing with us,” he said.

As they look forward to their new start Mr Ritchie said it will be business as usual for New England Travel.

“We’ll still concentrate on our corporate business and leisure travel and just continue to look after people that would like help organising things,” he said.

“We’ve got a very good client base throughout the whole region.”

The shop plans to move to 169 Beardy Street by the end of the month.

From left: Lachlan Ritchie, Jacqui L'Hostis, Kay Endres and Craig Ritchie outside the premises for New England Travel. The store moves after 38 years at 188 Beardy Street.

From left: Lachlan Ritchie, Jacqui L'Hostis, Kay Endres and Craig Ritchie outside the premises for New England Travel. The store moves after 38 years at 188 Beardy Street.

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