By AIDEN DARIES
Thrift store owner Diana Westcott greets all her customers with a smile, a happy heart, and an unfamiliar accent.
Although not from these parts, she has been sewn into the town’s fabric since arriving from the UK in 1975. From one small village in Wales to another small town in South Africa. You could say she finds comfort in modest spaces.
She says that travelling to a different continent on a 10-day cruise ship was “like one long party”. She found her husband in South Africa, and they moved to the then secluded city known as Grahamstown.
This is where she started her tiny second-hand clothes store – things were getting monotonous with her children heading off to high school. Nearly New is now 21 years old, and she doesn’t seem to have any thought of stopping the now-thriving business.
What attracted her to Makhanda? Well, it was once upon a time a thriving and bustling community that was well run. Now? “It’s depressing,” she says.
But it’s been her home away from home. The people here make it manageable, and her family now reside here. “It’s an easy way of life,” is how she describes her days here.
“Diana! how are you doing?” calls a customer. They chat about life, among many other things and share a laugh. The relationships she has fostered with the store’s customers over the years seem exemplary.
Her dog, Minnie, a Maltese poodle she rescued about nine years ago, provides her with companionship when days in the store are quiet. Described as the store’s mascot, people often enter for the sole reason of petting Minnie.
The townspeople have taken to Minnie the way they did to Diana all those years ago when she arrived.