AFTER 70 years delighting kids and adults alike, family-run sweet stall Nosey Parkers has weighed out its last bag of confectionery in Northwich.

Geoff Parker will bid a fond but tearful farewell to the town tomorrow as the long-running business, which has served up millions of sweet goodies over the past seven decades closes its shutters for the last time.

Fellow traders, plus customers young and old stopped by the corner stand at Northwich Indoor Market today, Friday, to stock up on some of their favourites and say goodbye and good luck to the candy man who took over the business from his parents Jack and Mary.

The 74-year-old, from Orford, Warrington, explained: “After 70 years of trading in Northwich this decision has been made with a heavy heart.

“Mum and dad opened the business and built it up until me and my brother Derek took over in the late 60s, early 70s.”

Geoff’s dad was a travelling salesman and had several customers in Northwich.

Geoff explained: “He used to come here quite a lot and I think he really liked the town. It was a Friday/Saturday market back then and he and my mum sort of just fell into it and built it up.”

Following several strokes, Geoff’s dad was too ill to continue running the sweet empire – which also had stalls in Warrington, Winsford, St Helens and Connah’s Quay – and so Geoff offered to take the reins but would only do so if his brother helped.

He explained: “I’d always worked for my dad, but Derek hadn’t. I said I wouldn’t take on the business without him, so we formed a partnership and it went from there.

“What with doing Saturdays here when I was at school, I’ve probably worked on here 67 years, although not always in this spot – we were in the old Tudor style market hall until around 1964.”

Geoff says the traditional fayre, such as curly aniseed, black and white mints, bonbons and any Uncle Joe’s sweets have always been a hit with customers, but he prefers chocolate ginger.

He said: “It’s got a great strong taste and I like anything with a strong taste. And I absolutely love chocolate. I can take or leave sweets but if I take a bar of chocolate home it’s gone in one sitting.”

And he’s still surprised when people as for their goodies in imperial measures.

He said: “Most people still ask for their sweets in imperial, even the kids. Very few do metric, it’s quite amazing really. We’ll usually be asked for a quarter of their favourite sweets rather than grams."

Geoff cites a lack of investment and planning in the indoor market and Weaver Square for ultimately leading him to make the decision to cease trading in Northwich.

He said: “It just feels like it’s the right time to let go. I’d like to thank all the stallholders and wish them the best of luck, they really do deserve it. It’s been a tough few years for us all.”

But it’s not the end of the road for Nosey Parkers and customers prepared to travel a little further for their sweet fix will be able to see Geoff alongside wife Angela and one of his daughters, Lindsay Clowes, at their Warrington Market stall which is open six days a week.

One of those customers will be loyal patron Barry Palin, from James Street who has been visiting the stall for almost 50 years.

The 64-year-old, whose favourite sweets are horse cakes – aniseed-flavoured buttons covered in blue or pink bobbles – said: “I’ve been coming since I was a youngster. He’s always had a good assortment of sweets and is ever so kind. I usually come twice a week – Tuesdays and Saturdays – I’ve got quite a sweet tooth. I’ve not been to Warrington for years, but I’ll definitely go to find him.”

With tears in his eyes, Geoff thanked the public in Northwich for their loyal support over the years.

He said: “It’s been a long time and I’ve made friends here, not just with the customers but with stallholders too. I get quite emotional when I think about it really as I am going to miss being here, the people really are the salt of the earth.”

“Thank you all so much for all of your custom – your support really has been appreciated.”