One of Middlesbrough’s most distinctive and best-known retailers is looking forward to a summer surge of business and a delayed 10th birthday celebration.
Military surplus supplier Buckshees opened its shop in the Dundas Centre in November 2010 but plans to mark the occasion had to be shelved because of the pandemic.
The business was launched a lot earlier – nearly 30 years ago – when Jeff Carroll left the army, soon to be joined by his brothers Johnny and Steve.
They all served in the 15th/19th The King’s Royal Hussars and had spent dozens of years in various posts around the world.
“We left as tank commanders and in those days there wasn’t much going for tank commanders,” said Johnny.
“Retail wasn’t an obvious route, but it was something that my brother fancied doing. We started off on the markets with a bit of army surplus and then it just grew and grew.”
Their success encouraged the brothers to have a more permanent home at the Dundas Indoor Market. They were there for 18 years before opening their shop in the centre.
Like many retailers their business has been affected by the pandemic, but they have survived difficult times before.
“2008 was a really bad year after the banking crisis and during the Foot and Mouth outbreak 2001 nobody was allowed to camp or go out in the countryside,” said Johnny.
He is hopeful that the final scrapping of Covid restrictions and the school summer holidays will encourage staycationers to come to the shop for their camping supplies: cookers, walking boots and outdoor clothing.
Prior to the pandemic Buckshees was also benefitting from the new craze of Airsoft, where teams target their opponents with replica air weapons which fire plastic projectiles.
The growing number of North-East Airsoft sites will be allowed to re-open from 19 July.
Since leaving the army the brothers have retained their connection with the military through both what they sell and the support they have provided for charities which support ex-service personnel.
They have raised around £30,000 for Help for Heroes and have collected another £10,000 for the Royal British Legion. They are understandably proud of their contribution which they believe has helped to make a difference.
“Ten years ago people leaving the services weren’t getting the support they needed and a lot of them were slipping through the net and ended up on the streets. Thankfully, that’s changed now,” said Johnny.
Buckshees is one of the longest-standing retailers in the Dundas Centre. Market manager David Harris said the business – like all the other independent traders based there – could play a key role in shaping Middlesbrough’s shopping future.