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Shop history

The birth of Sheffield Photographic Centre

'Sheffield Photographic Centre' began its existance when the owners of 'Susan Wildings' at 294 Ecclesall road decided to close their shop and move north, approx 36 years ago (from now, 2023). John, who already worked there, decided to take over the business, and renamed it.

After a few years, I (Jen) came along, and after asking: "'gis a job?", was taken on as a member of staff. 

The famous 'Sheff Photo' shop skeleton (294 Ecclesall road):

olde shoppe

We've seen huge changes over the last 30-odd years: changes in technology, changes in the photographic industry, and changes in dress sizes (me, not John lol).

I remember the days of using 'Letraset' transfers to make price tickets for the shop (1990's)!

John got the shop a laptop in the mid nineties, and dragged me into world of the Internet. He got me interested in it by installing 'Incredidate' on it (a free dating site similar to 'Plenty Of Fish'), and I subsequently found myself flirting online whist at work (until the novelty wore off).

We installed our first passport photo system in the mid nineties too, though in those days, it wasn't digital, it was using instant film which came out wet and needed drying off. I never forgave Boss John one September early 2000's when he went on a weeks holiday. During the universities 'Freshers' week. For 5 days I had a permanent queue of students about 10 meters long, into the street, wanting photos for student I.D cards. Had to do it all alone, taking on average about 70 people a day. Nearly died of exhaustion!

2009 saw me building our website, catapulting me into the world of design and creativity online:

wen

The shop has also moved premises twice - a move to 473 Ecclesall road about 17 years ago, and then a move to our smaller shop on Hickmott road 4 years ago.

Trundling the shops cabinets up the pavement from Ecclesall road, to Hickmott road:

shopmove

Having had 30+ years experience each in this industry, starting with buying and selling new and used film cameras, it's fantastic that lots of people are going back to or starting an interest in film photography - all our knowledge and skills with film cameras etc is suddenly usefull again! We are more than happy to give advice on all aspects of film cameras, darkroom help etc.

The shops ethos

I've always had the ethos of treating others as I would like to be treated myself, and to treat everyone the same, whether they are spending £1 or £1000.

Having once had the experience of the 'hard sell' from an arrogant, forceful, salesman from 'Everest Windows' (who got a Google review from me, likening the experience to "a shark attack"), we both pride ourselves in being laid back and see ourselves more as advisors, not salesmen. In our experience, genuine honesty and kindness is key to building trust.

I learnt very early on in my career not to judge anyone on their appearance etc. This came after someone looking like a homeless person, dressed in rags, had a look at a pair of  binoculars at £1600, and said "Yeah, I'll have 'em luv", and pulled £2000 in notes out of his inside pocket!

What do I (Jen) love about my job?

Firstly, it is the public -  I love meeting new people, and advising them according to why they have come into our shop. I think and work outside of the box too, for example designing business cards etc for other local businesses, and designing posters etc for local shops. I love a challenge and have helped lots of people over the years with things in the shop that have absolutely nothing to do with photography.

Secondly, I spend a lot of my time creating adverts and web pages. But I've also discovered I love interior design - resulting in major shop rearrangings over the years. I'm not into Feng Shui, but I know what a difference a shops layout and design makes to customer confidence in your business. And cleaning glass cabinets frequently!

Being also the shops buyer, I love spending the bosses money - it's like going shopping/ personal retail therapy! Although I sometimes go a bit mad, and cause a cash flow issue. Oops.

I imagine that not many shop staff have been taken on trips to Monsal Head and various other places in Derbyshire on the back of their bosses various motorbikes. But this has been a shop perk for me! Although the ride on the back of his Harley Davidson up to York and back nearly killed my bum, such a hard seat on that bike.

biker jen

And how many staff have had the luxery of their boss helping them to redecorate their house? Another perk of working here!

About 18 years ago, I had a torrid affair with a French man who worked in Cannes, France. On one of my jaunts to visit him, my taxi driver didn't turn up, and I missed the train to Liverpool airport. Distraught, I rang boss John in a panic. He put a 'Closed' sign on the shops door, and drove me to the aiport. Not many bosses care that much eh? If/when I ever attend interviews for a new job, can you imagine the interviewers reaction if they ask me what perks I have now, and what perks I may expect at their establiment LOL!

The moral of this is that if you get a job with this type of rare priceless boss, it's worth way way more than a higher paid job with a mean boss.

We have a fantastic set of shops on Hickmott road, and there is much camaradarie amongst us. Laughter rings out on the road on a reguar basis, when it's warm enough for us to come outside and take over the bench outside 'Partners' mens clothes shop. We can regularly be seen going in and out of each others' shops,  exchanging gossip etc.

- Having fun with the photo gear - here's boss 'Darth' John:

darh

What do I (Jen) NOT like in retail in general?

Pet hates are:

- Going into a shop, asking whether they have a certain product in the shop, and getting a curt "no", followed by silence.

- Staff who are clueless about the products they sell.

- Having a menopausal hot flush when a gorgeous guy comes in the shop.

- Boss John messily re-arrangeing the shop when I've made a great display.

Shop 'highs'

- About 18 years ago, a spokesman for the music band 'Madness' came into the old shop. 'Madness' were playing at the 02 academy, and were then going on tour abroad. They all needed passport photos taking - the band and all their staff and entourage. We got invited to the gig, set up a mobile passport studio, and took about 40 sets of passport photographs. Exhausting, but great to meet the band members! And free entry to the gig.

- Colossal street water fights outside our shop at 294 Ecclesall road, with the staff at 'Sweenies' hairdressers next door. We were forever pranking them.

- Being flown to Austria and wined and dined by Swarovski Optics, whose binoculars we sold at the time.

- Becoming a mum in my mid forties:

jen

- About 14 years ago, I planned a huge shop rearrangement, designing it on the computer after measuring everything. Showed it to boss John, but he was too lazy to be bothered to physically move everything around. Nagged for 2 years to no avail. So I waited until he went on a weeks holiday, got some male friends in to help cart cabinets around, and did the revamp myself. Johns face was priceless when he came back and saw it! He did love it by the way, phew.

Shop 'fails'

- We had a Mitsibushi instant digital print machine in the old shop. Whilst moving the fixtures into the Hickmott road shop, John lost control whilst dismantling the old shop grill, and it fell onto the Mitsibushi machine, totally wrecking it.

- Fashion fails: Boss Johns' temporary moustache and beard. Jens 'nineties' peroxide 'big' hair. Can't post the hairy boss photo without getting the sack!

jen

- Years ago, boss John was being flirted with by a good looking female customer. Whilst trying to look cool, he put his foot up on a glass brochure shelf, and it broke in half.

- Johns prank that went wrong last year, of going into the 'Yes Orange' shop on Hickmott road, and groping the shop manequins after mistaking it for my friends shop 'Butterfly' on Hickmott road (who told me about a strange man who had fondled her manequin). Johns reputation is in ruins lol.

- Jen giving the shops laptop a drink of coffee about 18 years ago. It prefered tea, and popped its cloggs. Ooops.

- We once had a very nervous, shy postman at the 473 Ecclesall road shop. Boss John would wait on all fours, hiding behind the counter, and then scuttle out towards him, barking loudly when he brought the mail in. The guy didn't last very long before being replaced by a more resilient postman.

- Two years ago, the owner of 'Ora', Marika, had to disconnect her shops doorbell, because I kept ringing it then running off and hiding in our shop 2 doors down.

 

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