Having a baby? Doncaster pram shop may be the first to know
If a women is expecting a baby, Doncaster grandmother Sandra Wright is usually the first to know.
For almost 30 years, Sandra and her staff at the Stork Pram and Cot Centre have been hearing about imminent new arrivals even before some family members.
That is one of the perks of running the long serving baby shop on Market Road, which sells everything from prams to cots and baby baths, and which attracts visitors from as far away as the Isle of Wight.
The Wrights took over the shop in 1990, after Sandra, a former florist, had spent time working there before taking over.
Sandra admits the products she sellsÂ are very different to the items she used for her own children in the 70s. In her day, she remembers car seats were shaped like half egg shells, and had to be bolted into place inside the car. Now they are padded and mobile, strapping in with the seatbelts.
Now she is an expert in the latest equipment, as are her staff. They bring in the latest items from nursery equipment shows in Germany and Harrogate, and have exclusive lines on some brands locally.
Some of the staff who were working with Sandra whenÂ she took over are still working there.
'We sell everything for the nursery,' said Sandra. 'I see myself as being a bit of a wheeler dealer to get good prices for our customers..
'Our customers are lovely, and it's great when we get the chance to be a little part of their story in having a baby.
'They sometimes come in after they've just had a pregnancy test, and we get to know before event their families know. Sometimes people come in to look at prices to find out if they think they can afford to have a baby.
'I think I'm probably quite maternal and I do get a bit clucky over some of them.
'When we first started there was no internet and companies did not sell online. Now that there are firms selling these things online, we sometimes find people who have bought things from websites bring them back to us when they have a problem.
'We don't mind sending things back for them, but if there is a charge, then they must pay it '“Â we won't pay any charges for them.
'But people who come to us to buy get customer service that they will not get from a website. I think we win hands down on that score. For instance, we fit the car seats for them and show them how to do it.'
'We also let people put a deposit down on anything they want to buy, and then they can pay the balance before they come and pick it up then the baby arrives.'
Stork have a wide range of makes, including Silver Cross, Venicci, BabyStyle, Bebecar, Mamas and Papas and iCandy. The styles range from the traditional old fashioned metal bodied prams to more modern designs and pushchairs. Sandra recommends people make sure that the mechanics of the pram suits them before they starting thinking of what it looks like, as a pram that won't fit in the car can cause issues.
Colours are also often important to the owners. Rose gold is an increasing popular colour '“Â to match with mums' mobile phones.
But times have been tough for Stork in recent months.
Sandra believes the recent re-development of the Wool Market has mean it has lost some of its trade, as it has lost a route through to Market Road from the main market area.
'A lot of out customers come through that way, and we've missed out on that,' she said. 'We're looking forward to that path through being re-opened.Â
'The new market area sounds like it is going to be more up market, and it sounds like it will mean there is more parking too in that area, which will be helpful to us.
'We had planned a refurbishment for the shop, but we put it off until the work on the market has been completed.
'It will create a lot of interest when they open the wool market. It hit us when it closed, but it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel.'
Customer Sharon Knight has stuck with Stork. SheÂ spoke the Free Press afterÂ coming all the way from Ollerton, near Mansfield, to visit the shop.
She said: 'The shop's brilliant. I travel because there's nothing like this near where I live. I have to order things or travel. Coming here you can see things and try them out.'