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World record shop White's still going strong - after 113 years
3:00pm Friday 24th January 2014 in News
IN 1901, Whites Sports on Sankey Street opened its doors to offer the people of Warrington traditional sports services and accessories.
One hundred and thirteen years down the line, in spite of the ever-increasing threat from online and outlet retailers, the family-run store hopes to be awarded a Guinness World Record for becoming the oldest running sports store of its kind.
With the help of Warrington rugby legend Jack Fish, John Ernest White, who lived on Wilson Patten Street in the town centre, opened the shop, which has since been passed down through four generations and survived one relocation to its current home in Warrington market.
The store was first threatened with closure in 1908, when council leaders planned on demolishing one side of Sankey Street for redevelopments.
Despite numerous other eviction threats, the family battled the decision and remained at their first home up until 1974.
As well as relocating to the town’s market in the same year, Whites also opened two other stores in Stockton Heath and Knutsford, where England World Cup winner Roger Hunt and local rugby hero Alex Murphy helped celebrate the new beginnings.
The two stores enjoyed a decade in business before they were closed in 1984, in order for attentions to be solely turned towards the original town centre branch.
Whites retain their stance on offering the sports essentials from repointing darts to selling football studs and everything in between.
Susan White, aged 67, from Appleton Thorn, currently owns the store with the help of self-employed sons Adam, 41, and Roger, 43.
Susan said: “It's a challenge, education and adventure running a shop steeped in so much heritage and tradition.
“I've had to learn how to repoint darts, re-tip snooker cues and restring squash racquets. I have made some great friends with fellow market traders and it’s always a pleasure to see our regular customers.
“It is however, becoming increasingly difficult to compete, so who knows what the future holds for Whites Sports Shop. For now we are still in the market but the pressure on independent traders in our town is greater than ever.”
Adam added: “There was certainly pressure, in the eighties in particular, to follow the bigger sports shops and sell the fashion side of the market.
“We didn’t get into selling tracksuits or trainers and we stuck to concentrating on offering a tailor-made service to suit the customer’s needs.”
Adam is readying plans to launch a website later this year, but never one to give into trends, it will be to share the Whites’ journey and heritage rather than selling their goods.
Whites can still be found in the corner of Warrington market where they pride themselves on specialising in darts, bowls, snooker, flags, guns, outdoor wear, football and rugby accessories.
A display of historic equipment is also on display to the public, including a hand measurer for golf gloves, a cue tipper and a hat stretcher which is still used today.
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