Sheffield’s longest serving department store celebrated its 147th birthday by inviting shoppers to take on one of snooker’s longest serving and highest profile stars.
Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White – who was in town for the World Snooker Championship – spent an afternoon taking on all comers on the full size table that had been specially erected on the first floor of Atkinsons on The Moor.
He also took time out to meet staff, made a purchase from the newly opened men’s clothing department and even had his trouser braces mended!
Most businesses have to wait another three years for their milestone birthday but things are a little different in Sheffield – there’s an extra one.
But it has to be a pretty enduring business that can reach the grand old age of 147 – the iconic maximum break in the sport of snooker, the game which has become synonymous with the city since the World Championships first made it their home in the 1970s.
John Atkinson opened his first shop on the Moor (then known as South Street) in 1872. The store has survived two world wars (it was flattened in the Sheffield Blitz of 1940), numerous recessions but remains the city centre’s largest independent department store.
One of its most notable past attractions was a crocodile that used to reside in the store’s in-house zoo in the 1930s. Early morning staff were horrified to find it had escaped – it was later found dead having fallen down the lift shaft.
Atkinsons’ 147th birthday isn’t the store’s only brush with a snooker star. In 1988, current Joint Managing Director Clive Hester and Furniture Buyer David Rose played a few frames with ‘Steady’ Eddie Charlton as part of a 24 hour charity fundraiser at the nearby Moorfoot Snooker Club.
Atkinsons has been undergoing a renaissance in recent months under the tenure of manager David Cartwright as it looks to broaden its appeal.
He said: “High street retail is facing massive challenges in 2019 and remaining relevant to our customers, how they want to shop or what they want to experience is highly appropriate. That’s why it is a true honour that Jimmy White helped us celebrate such a big milestone. We look forward to welcoming people to the store to see the many changes we’ve been making.”