Long Sutton’s longest established retailer has two milestones to celebrate this year.
But such is the modesty of Graham Smith and Gill Wysoczananski, brother and sister co-owners of Pledgers Limited in Market Place, the 25th anniversary of them taking on the business from their father Maurice Smith has almost passed by.
Likewise, this year marks 50 years since Maurice bought the business from founder Dick Pledger who first established the toys and electrical appliances store shortly after the end of World War II in July 1945.
Graham said: “Our 70th anniversary in 2015 was a big thing for us and we had a lot of guests and demonstrations for it.
“We also celebrated the 50th and 60th anniversaries of when the shop was opened.
“But from the moment Gill and I took over in 1992, we’ve just carried on with things and done the work.
“It’s nice to think of what it was before and when we look at what it is now we should be proud of it.”
Pledgers is still the go-to place for toy, games, electrical goods and greetings cards for customers as far away as Spalding, Gosberton, King’s Lynn, Wisbech and Gosberton.
The secret of the family-run firm’s success is simple and timeless, good staff, friendly service, customer care, product knowledge and the whole local shop concept.
Gill said: “The four of us, my older brother David Smith, sister Jenny Sanderson, Graham and myself all came into the business straight from school.
Pledgers is quite a well-known business and we do go out of our way to make more of an effort for our customersGill Wysoczananski, co-owner of Pledgers Limited, Long Sutton
“We extended the shop in the 1980s when it was just small rooms and what was the office is now full of kitchen appliances.
“Jenny left the business in 1996 and David retired two years ago, so Graham and I are the only two left out of the family.
“Pledgers is quite a well-known business and we do go out of our way to make more of an effort for our customers, with the help of our good staff who are all from Long Sutton.”
It is an established part of Long Sutton’s history that Clifford ‘Dick’ Pledger opened a bicycle and radio shop where a 14-year-old Maurice Smith was taken on full-time to repair radios.
In 1947, Maurice demonstrated the town’s first TV set and six years later, he became ‘Long Sutton’s very own Mr TV’ (as the Spalding Guardian named him in April 2013) when he helped people in the town to watch the Queen’s Coronation on TV.
Graham said: “Things have changed gradually so that now toys and electrical appliances are the two main things we’ve got in the shop.
“When people come and buy something from us, they know that it’s going to be delivered and installed as well.
“We get a lot of comments about the good service we provide, the speed of delivery and the fact that we take the old appliances away with us.
“Any products that we sell, someone at the shop will know something about so we’re good at what we do.”
Another advantage for Pledgers is being a member of Euronics, a group of independent electrical retailers who, together, represent the largest wholesalers of electrical goods in Europe.
Euronics represent about 11,000 stores and branches in 30 European countries, reaching 600 million consumers with its ‘philosophy of service and price’.
Graham said: “Euronics is run by a board of directors who deal with all the market leaders, like Siemens, Samsung and Hotpoint.
“Then we have a team of seven staff, including Gill’s husband Genek who generally manages the shop while I work more on the service and delivery side of things.
“But we all help in different areas of the business in case some of the staff are out delivering electrical appliances to customers.”
The reputation Pledgers has established over the last 72 years, the last 50 in the hands of the Smith family, is a cause for celebration in Long Sutton.
Gill said: “We’re part of the community and if we weren’t here, it would be a big loss.”
Over the last six years, Pledgers Limited has been featured six times in either the Lincolnshire Free Press or Spalding Guardian.
When Pledgers celebrated its 70th anniversary in June 2015, Gill said: “What we stock has changed over the years, but we’re very lucky people to have customers who have continued to support us over the years.
“They’ve grown up with us and trust us because we’re a family business and without their support, we wouldn’t be here.”