Sixty years of keeping children happy

Jim, Pamela and William Osborne with toys from the mid 1950s and today
Jim, Pamela and William Osborne with toys from the mid 1950s and today

For Jim Osborne this Christmas is the 60th he has served customers at his shop.

Mr Osborne owns Osborne’s Sports and Toys in High Street, Rushden and, despite being 83, still works there with his son William.

He bought the shop in May 1955 from Harold Desborough, and changed the name to the one familiar to generations of families in the town.

He said: “Things have changed of course, but it has changed for the High Street generally, there aren’t so many people shopping in the high street.

“Advertising has made an impact on the toys people buy, the ones that are advertised heavily sell well, but people still come in and say ‘have you got snakes and ladders?’.

“This year it is things connected to Frozen that are the big seller.

“Packaging has changed too with the introduction of colour.”

Mr Osborne puts the shop’s longevity down to the fact it is a traditional shop.

He said: “The One Show came down and they were fascinated by a traditional toy shop.”

His son William, who is himself celebrating his 30th Christmas working in the shop, agreed. He said: “We like to think someone who came into the shop 30 years ago would still recognise it. People who have been away from the town for a while like to walk down High Street when they come back and see what’s changed, and I think they like the fact we’re still here. It’s reassuring for them that not everything changes.

“We are a traditional toy shop, it doesn’t suit everyone but it suits us.

“It’s all very well buying from the internet but people want to be able to see toys so they can see what size they are, that kind of thing, which you can’t do on the internet.

“We also sell things like bits of train track, people can’t get things like that from shops such as Tesco.”

Commenting on his father’s years of service at the shop, William said: “People like to see the same guy serving as they always have.

“I ask dad when he’s going to retire but he loves it and loves chatting to the customers.”

Jim added: “There’s all sorts of things that have happened over the years and some wonderful people that we’ve met through the business.”