Bedford is home to one of Britain’s oldest DIY stores as Goldings Ironmongers celebrates an astonishing 150th years of trading.
Goldings has been trading since 1867 and has survived the launch of DIY superstores and internet shopping.
It stocks 35,000 different lines of products and its owners believe the secret to its success is the added personal service they give to customers.
Staff member Victor Warner, 71, said: “In the early days, I was here because it was a job and work wasn’t plentiful- if you had a job, you would stick to it, now times have changed.
“And we have kept up to date with the times, we sell USB connectivity cables and we keep up to date with the times.
“If there’s a new product available from our wholesalers and customers want it, we try to get it.
“We do treat everyone like our customers, I’ve made some life-long friends in this shop, I enjoy speaking with the public and they all know me by name now.
“I did think it was time to wind things up, which is why I’ve handed over the business, but I won’t retire completely or stop coming in every Wednesday, while health is on my side!”
Victor said that the store still sells old “Aladdin style” paraffin lamps that are nearly impossible to find elsewhere, and that it has a special licence allowing it to sell fireworks all year round.
His wife, Linda, 69, said: “The shops around us used to be grocers, lots of little grocer stores, and they’re not around anymore because it’s really hard to stay open, it is a shame.
“I did used to work at one of those grocery stores and that’s where I met Vic, he tapped me on the shoulder 48 years ago when I was working at the till.
“He said, ‘Handle with care’, it gave me a surprise, we’ve been together since then, it really did give me a surprise.”
Goldings, which was originally called Day and Sons, is run by Victor, Christopher Lee Temple, 45, and his wife, Catherine Temple, 44.
The couple bought the business from Vic, who has worked there since 1961, when it grew to be too much for him to manage alone- but that didn’t stop him working there every Wednesday.
Christopher, who purchased the business two years ago, said: “Vic has always been a close family friend.
“You’ve got to stay competitive in your prices, we offer such a personal service, if you want something and we haven’t got it, we try to get it in stock.
“We’ve built a trusting relationship (with our customers) and that’s really worth a lot.
“There’s customers that come in today that came in 20 years ago, you know, when you find something you feel comfortable with, you stick to it.
“We use cardboard stars when we have things on offer, like our onion bulbs which are in baskets for 99p.
“All our stock in manually counted, there’s no technical stock control system from the till, and we sell all sorts of things from mousetraps to sink plugs.
“The ethos has stayed the same over the years, and the lay-out hasn’t changed either.
“We’ve had the same wooden parquet floor for over 20 years and we’ve stocked some of these lines since before I started here.
“Thank God we don’t sell nails by weight anymore, that’s the main thing I remember that we used to stock which we don’t sell anymore- we used to weigh them out by the scoop into bags.
“That and paraffin, we used to sell absolutely loads of paraffin, from a pump on the wall.”
The store was one of many hardware stores in its area when it first opened, but now is one of the only ones left on the high street.
Christopher said: “You can still get a single nut and bolt from us, starting from 30p- that’s the sort of thing that we do that the nearby Wilko’s doesn’t.
“Wilkinsons is the main other store in the area that sells hardware goods, the Wickes and stuff like that isn’t in town.
“We cut keys and we have a model section and sell Balsa wood for car and plane models.”
Janet Day, a loyal customer, said on the Goldings’ Facebook page: “What ever you need Goldings will probably have it and if not will do their best to find it for you.
“The staff are very special people.
“Best shop I know.”
The store, which is based on High Street in Bedford, Bedfordshire, was opened by William Day, who named it ‘Day and Sons’.
This was the year that the suffragettes were first formed, after the government rejected a bid for women to have the right to vote.