In the first in a series of #SOSMorecambe features celebrating some of the small, independent Morecambe shops which are the lifeblood of the town, GREG LAMBERT visits the Walker family of Smalleys pram and bike shop
IF there ever was the definition of a family business, then it’s Smalleys.
The shop was opened originally by the Smalley family, then taken over by its current owners the Walkers in 1990 when the Smalleys retired.
Husband and wife Adrian and Vivian Walker, and their son Scott all live and work in the four-storey premises on Euston Road.
And they find their most loyal customers are families too. On this particular day, four generations of them.
Great grandmother Tricia Rogers has brought her daughter Debbie Sharples, granddaughter Gemma and tiny great granddaughter Kiara shopping for the baby’s first pram.
“It’s a brilliant shop,” says Mrs Rogers.
“If you’ve got something wrong with your bikes, you come here and they sort them out.
“My daughter Debbie is 50, I’ve got four children altogether and we’ve all been coming here for bikes since they were little.”
It’s testimony to Smalleys’ personal touch that the shop has remained in the same location in Morecambe town centre since 1961.
“Our customers become like friends of ours,” says Adrian, 57.
“They start with a pram, then they buy little trikes and toys, then their first bike, and they keep coming back with their children and their children’s children.” Adrian, who began working in the shop aged just 14, said Smalleys has survived the rise of internet shopping because the family are “meticulous and thorough”.
“You can’t get the service from the internet that you get from this shop. Word of mouth is the best advertisement you can get. We spend time with our customers to make sure all the parts on our bikes are spot-on.
“The Olympics has made a difference too. People have been digging their bikes out of their sheds and bringing them in for repairs.”
The shop’s pram and cot section was also recently given a boost by the visit of BBC TV cameras, thanks to the Walkers’ friendship with Morecambe’s telly antiques expert Paul Hayes.
“We bought an old rocking crib from Paul, who got it from France, and said it was right up our street,” says Adrian.
“He then came and filmed us for his programme Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. Paul used to live next door to Viv, she’s known him for years.
“It should be on TV soon.”
The Walkers have backed our Visitor campaign #SOSMorecambe to Support Our Shops. They are positive and enthusiastic people who believe Morecambe has a lot to offer, and feel that things are looking up for the town.
“We’ve worked hard to build up this business, we keep the place looking as nice as we can and we just get on with it,” says Adrian.
“Yes, we could do with a few more attractions but the promenade looks better and the Midland is amazing. And the Eric Morecambe statue has been brilliant for the town. Every time I visit, there’s somebody doing that (Eric) pose and taking a photo.
“There’s been more of a feelgood factor around Morecambe this year thanks to the Olympic torch coming and the Queen’s Jubilee.
“It gives you a bit of a lift.”