I am Tony, and I am originally from Co. Wexford where my parents had a drapery shop in Gorey. My grandparents business; French's, 28 Main Street, Gorey, was established in the 1800's, and to this day is still in the family and run by my Cousin Jim French. My first job when I left school was in retail I think it’s safe to say it is definitely in my genes.
Valerie and I married in 1969, and bought a small Newsagents in Walkinstown Green, Dublin 12. We lived above the shop, which was just as well, as we opened from 8am to 9pm each day. We aspired to sell as many newspapers, sweets and penny toffee bars as possible.
Over the next few years our children Paul, Brian, Niamh and Aileen arrived into our lives. It wasn't easy to feed four children with the profits from penny bars and newspapers so we expanded to our shop and began to sell bikes and prams. Competitive pricing must have been in the Walkinstown air, as Mr. O'Leary the other newsagent in this area at the time, went on to make his name discounting airline tickets.
The move to bikes and prams proved to be successful and it is not unusual to hear Grandparents-to-be telling us they bought their first pram, or first bike here, and now are back to buy their Granddaughter's, or Grandson's pram. I think they call this "Intergenerational Commerce".
We sold bikes right up to 2004 when due to space restrictions at that time, we made the choice to entirely focus on prams and nursery products. What a great decision that turned out to be.
Some near misses which could have led to serious accidents have made us extremely conscious of the need to emphasise the importance of safety to first-time parents and to help them get the safest equipment possible. It has led to an obsessive desire on our part to understand the safety features of all baby products in order to correctly demonstrate and inform the families who are trusting us to give them the right advice for their baby's safety. Tony Kealys were the first to set up in-store rigs to demonstrate accurately the fitting of child car seats and we will fit every single car seat in their car for every single customer who visits our stores.
Over the years, good value, exceptional service, and commitment to your baby’s safety has become the outstanding point of difference between Tony Kealys and other stores. As a consequence of this difference as far back as the 1980's I was invited to speak with first-time parents at the Antenatal classes in the Coombe Maternity Hospital in Dublin. We now speak about child safety in cars in the Coombe and the National Maternity Hospital Holles Street in Dublin, as well as Cork University Hospital and the Royal Jubilee and Mater Hospitals in Belfast. Our motto is “if we would not use the product for our own children we will not sell it”. At Tony Kealys we don't sell products that "just" pass the safety tests, we aim for the highest standard.
While I'm still involved myself, my son Paul now runs Tony Kealys, after returning from the UK in 2004 with his own young family. Paul had spent the previous 10 years in London gaining valuable business experience. He grew up around the store with Brian, Niamh and Aileen, spending much of their school holidays and weekends in the shop helping out and ensuring they were all steeped in our family business. My daughter Niamh once said “I’m sure that “THE SHOP” was not the only subject discussed at our dinner table, or at least I think it wasn’t the only thing”. Paul is now adding his own knowledge and expertise to our business and we have grown to 4 stores with the addition of new shops in Coolock, Cork and Belfast.
Our focus on children’s safety caught the attention of the Road Safety Authority (RSA). We are now contracted with the RSA to attend their nationwide roadshows and give help and advice to the public on the correct fitting of their children's car seats. As mentioned previously we offer an in-store child car seat fitting service at all our stores, whereby we will check the suitability and correct installation of any child car seat irrespective of where they are bought.
We are extremely lucky to have a very loyal, highly skilled and hard working team at Tony Kealys, several of whom are parents themselves. They have driven the creation and growth of our brand. Their passion for what they do, combined with their product knowledge and willingness to spend time engaging with and understanding our customers requirements, makes us who we are.
“Initially I felt great service came down to giving the customer what they asked for, but I now realise that a really good retailer asks questions
and together with the customer helps find the best solutions for their needs. A customer may ask for a car seat that will fit on their pram,
but much more important is that it’s compatible with their car – after all it’s a life saving device that may one day be called upon to do just that”
- Paul Kealy
We want to help our customers to get the product they need using our almost 50 years of experience to help guide their decisions. We continue to learn from this experience and the feedback we get from your our customers is invaluable. Our aim is to continue to improve giving you the best possible service and we encourage you to keep on giving us your feedback and as much information as you can on all our products and service.
We may have moved on from selling penny toffee bars at Tony Kealys a long time ago, but we will always remain true to our family values, making sure your family gets the very best from ours; with our commitment to child safety, our strong work ethic and in providing an outstanding service with competitive pricing.
Come visit us at any of our stores, or follow us on Social Media