A 1950s light switch?
Oh yes, Philip Sisman can sell you one of those.
A 1940s record needle too. A 1960s light bulb? Check. And a 1980s oven element? Of course, he’ll just get one from the back.
Welcome to P J Sisman Electrical, in The Wicker, Sheffield.
Next month Philip celebrates his 35th year as owner and 46th year working at this one-stop appliance shop – but there’s still stock in store that’s been here longer than he has.
It is a veritable treasure trove of thousands of old and new bulbs, fuses, cooker elements, clips, cables, aerials, tie wraps and fire bars
“I hate throwing things out,” says the 60-year-old. “You never know when something might come back in fashion.
“Like those light switches. They were in that drawer when I started here at 15. Then last year, a film company from Essex got in touch because they were creating a 1950s set.
“They bought 10 of the switches at £3 each.”
“Thinking about it now I probably should have labelled them retro fashion and charged them a tenner a pop but never mind.
It was 1965 when Philip, then just 15, saw an advert and applied to work at the store – then owned by Sidney Cooper and called simply Cooper’s.
He’d wanted to be a mechanic but after a day on the job realised he didn’t like getting grimy at work.
Instead Mr Cooper, who’d set up the store in 1958, took him on and “never got rid of me”.
When the older man retired in 1976, Philip took over and has stayed ever since. His oldest of three sons, Adam, 35, has caught the bug and been there 18 years too.
“Why have I done it?” ponders Philip, of Chapel Town, today. “Because I must be mad. No, because I love the shop I suppose. Everyday is different. Everyday something unusual happens and you have to meet that challenge.”
For example someone might come in and ask for a set of pool balls.
Among the store’s high-piled shelves, nooks and crannies, hidden drawers and cluttered back room there is pretty much any electrical item you wouldn’t find at Tesco (“it’s a store where electricians buy their electricals” says Adam, of Ecclesfield) but, unsurprisingly, there aren’t any pool balls.
“It’s incredible the sort of things people come in and ask for,” says Adam. “Someone once asked for them. I looked around and then just said ‘Sorry, we’re an electrical shop’. What else can you do?
Over the years the store has survived floods, supermarket expansions and controversial bus gates – and Philip says he doesn’t ever see himself retiring.
“It gets harder every year but I keep coming in every morning,” he deadpans. “Someone has to sell cooker elements and hand dryers.”
He’s even contemplating selling online – so far there is no option to buy on the store’s website.
“But the sheer amount of stock we’d have to catalogue is frightening,” he laughs. “Anyway, I think our customers value the service you get from a family shop. We always try and help and advise. We’re a friendly face.”