Any shop owner will tell you that profits have to be earned and turnover is the lifeblood of all retailers.
But increasingly, market towns like Spalding, Holbeach, Long Sutton and Crowland need to have “unique selling points” to make them attractive, both for the people who live there and for those who visit.
We’re unique because we’re the only model shop in the area and we don’t just specialise in one thing, covering lots of areas and catering for all agesSteve Mason, Masons Models, New Road, Spalding
Likewise, large villages such as Sutton Bridge, Pinchbeck, Gedney Hill and Donington, survive and thrive on shops that combine speciality with hospitality.
In Spalding, Mason Models (Electrical, Lighting and Model Supplies), of New Road, has captured a market in catering for ready-made and do-it-yourself model kits, as well hard-to-get household and electrical goods.
Steve Mason, who runs the specialist shop with his wife Dee and son Ed, said: “On April 6 this year, we celebrate our 21st anniversary and we’re very proud to be here.
“Our customers come from all over the country, but our furthest one so far has been from Canada.
“It was a man who came over to the UK to see his mother and father, but he also wanted to come here.
“Another customer from North Wales comes in to see us regularly, with others from Peterborough, Boston, Skegness, Grantham and Stamford.
“We’re unique because we’re the only model shop in the area and we don’t just specialise in one thing, covering lots of areas and catering for all ages.”
Masons Models, or rather the shop now occupied by Steve, Dee and Ed, has a history stretching back to the 1900s when it was a garage where David Stanger built coaches and carriages.
Steve said: “This shop and the one next door (now The Ivy Wall pub) used to be joined together as W.H. Stanger Record and Radio Services.
“A garage was also part of it and the people who ran the business lived here as well.
“Then Ernest Wilson took it over as more of an electrical shop until his son Jim Wilson turned it into a model shop.
“We took the shop over from Jim in 1996 and now we get people coming in to buy paint kits for model sets, model aircraft, cars and hard-to-get electrical items.”
Like other shops in South Holland, Masons Models are feeling the effects of competition from online retailers.
But Dee said: “People want knowledge, information and the chance to take things home with them as well, so we do try and help customers where we possibly can.
“They tend to be people who like making things themselves, rather than buying models in a box, and we get customers who buy large amounts of the model paints we stock because you can’t get them anywhere else in Lincolnshire.”
Steve has turned what was a personal interest into a fixture on Spalding’s shopping landscape.
He said: “I used to work in the telecommunications industry, but my hobby was flying model aircraft.
“When we bought the shop as a going concern (continuing to trade into the future), it was a case of ‘now or never’.
“But the model industry has moved on over the years and now you have specialist manufacturers from Japan, China and the Czech Republic, as well as the UK.”
Next week’s featured business will be Spalding Travel.