Classic toys of the 1960s
Classic toys of the 1960s

Serving customers for 65 years, the Rushden toy shop that has spanned the generations

'The Gift Shop' was bought by Jim Osborne in 1955 and was re-named after the new owner

By Alison Bagley
Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 7:00 am

In 1955, a West Bromwich Albion football trialist was told by his entrepreneurial mother that 'you should set up your own business', and seeing a shop for sale in a trade paper, he did just that renaming The Gift Shop in High Street Rushden, Osborne's Toys and Sports.

Jim Osborne had chosen the shop because it was the official stockist for the most popular toys of the time - Meccano and Tri-ang - toys that would last.

Son Will makes it clear that Osborne's has always been a quality shop. He said: "There are shops that sell pocket money or weekly toys and then there's the items that are for birthdays and Christmas. We specialise in things that are or will be collectables."

Special 65th anniversary jigsaws have been commissioned featuring a collage of photographs of life in the family-run shop, and a painting of Jim Osborne by Rushden artist Keith Hill.

Will said: "Keith was one of dad's first customers in 1955 and he remembers coming into the shop as a child. We can certainly say he's a long-term customer."

The shop is still owned by Jim's widow Pam, who pops in to do the books in the office, and is managed by son Will and his partner Libby Risdale.

A recent highlight for the family was in 2018 when toy giant Lego wanted to thank the Osbornes for their brand loyalty selling their products and being the first stockist in the UK .

Their whole shop front was clad with 277,500 bricks for a weekend even reproducing the fire hydrant sign on the wall in the famous building blocks.

Will added: "The person from Lego was really pleased that we were still going and in the same place."

The 65th birthday in May had to be postponed due to the Covid pandemic but staff will mark the date alongside another significant anniversary. It will be five years since the death of founder Jim on July 31.

Undefined: twitter
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