The owner of a Sheffield electrical business is celebrating 50 years in the same shop this weekend.
Philip Sisman has run his business, PJ Sisman electrical supplies, on the Wicker for 39 years and also turns 65 this week.
He has worked in the shop since 1965.
Sisman’s is the sort of reassuringly old-fashioned shop where customers know they will be looked after by the man in the blue coat behind a counter where every available surface and space seem to be taken up by stock.
He said: “Most of our customers seem to be regulars and we get a lot of referrals from the likes of John Lewis, Atkinson’s, Maplins etc.”
Philip said that he is now seeing the sons and grandsons of his regulars in the shop.
Born in Firth Park, Philip tried his hand as an apprentice mechanic at Brook Shaws but it wasn’t for him.
Then his mum spotted an advert for a job in the shop. He joked: “I thought I’d give it a go and the rest is history!”
Philip remembered: “I first came to work on the Wicker in August 1965 to work for Coopers Radio and TV. It was a thriving area at that time.
“There were four banks, a post office, a travel agent, three jewellers, a pork butchers, cinema house, wholesale tobacconist, Chinese restaurant, opticians, several public houses, a ladies’ and gents’ shoe shop and numerous other types of shops.
“You could get most things you would want on the Wicker.
“At that time we sold radios, TVs, washing machines and vacuums and were well known as the electric blanket repair shop.
“This was before the likes of Comet and Curry’s were around.
“In 1976 Mr Sydney Cooper, who was my boss at the time, decided to retire and asked me if I wanted to take the shop on. I did.”
Philip said that taking the shop on was a bit of a gamble at the time, when his son Adam was only six months old.
“By this time Comet and Curry’s etc were domineering the electrical market and you could not compete with them, so I decided to reduce the amount of appliances I was selling and go more into spare parts.
“We carried on for a while with the blanket repairs and increased stocks of elements, lamps and tubes.
“We are mainly known today as the cooker element specialists.”
Philip added: “Adam works with me in the shop. He has been here about 20 years now and he has full knowledge of the business.”
Philip and Adam had to overcome a major threat to the business almost exactly eight years ago as their shop was hit by the terrible floods that caused chaos in the area.
“We lost all the stock in the cellar and quite a bit in the shop,” said Philip, who remembers it as a traumatic time. “But with help from friends and our insurance company we were up and running several days later.”
They noticed that the cellar was filling up as the level of the River Don rose and eventually reached the top of the stairs.
Philip said: “The river broke over the wall on Nursery Street and the water came down Stanley Street like a river. Then it started to come in here.”
They worked for hours to try to stop the water coming into the shop and placed everything they could up on the counters and finally left about 8pm, the last moment they could before they got trapped.
When they returned they were met with a heartbreaking sight.
Adam said: “It was just black mess all over things.”
When they first reopened they had to serve people by passing goods under the partly closed shutters until the shop could be properly cleaned up and repaired, Adam said.
However, the business managed to carry on.
Philip married Maureen in 1973 and they have two other sons, Gavin, who runs his own driving school, and Ryan, who has a heating and plumbing business.
The couple enjoy spending time with grandchildren Darcy, Francessca, Oliver and Brook
Reaching the milestone of 65 doesn’t mean that Philip is ready to hang up his blue coat and become a full-time grandad just yet, though.
He doesn’t even want any celebrations!
“I hope to carry on for a few more years yet as I have no intention of retiring and I hope Adam will carry on after me. But whether or not he will stay on the Wicker, I don’t know,” said Philip.
He added: “Why do I do it? Probably because each day pops up a different challenge and you meet all types of characters.”