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128 years in trade and still going strong even in COVID…

7 May 2020

What a celebration this weekend is.  Not only does Dorking celebrate 75 years of Victory in Europe, but we also help S C Fullers of Dorking celebrate 128 years in trade this weekend!

S C Fullers, a family run business, selling Guns, fishing tackle and country fashions in Dorking was first opened in the Victorian era and is one of the oldest running shops in Dorking, Surrey.

Liz Fuller explains that Andrew and herself, the fourth generation, that this is one of the most challenging times within their history.

As of the 24th March 2020 our shop has been closed due to the government COVID19 regulations. This has been the first time in the family’s history that the shop has been closed for this amount of time.  Even during WW2 Fuller remained open. 

With our doors closed for now and as a small specialist business, we have been actively working on updating our website, interacting with social media, adapting to the changing market and offering online purchases where we can. We have already discussed and have put together a strategy for safeguarding measures when the government allow us to reopen, which we all hope will be very soon.

With so much history attached to the shop, we asked Liz what the shop was like when she and Andrew were growing up.

As you walk through the door into S C Fullers Dorking, there is a feeling of calm and pride.  This unique shop in Surrey is renowned for its customer service.  The staff and attentive and caring and always treat their customer with respect.  It can’t be easy to sell a gun, but the Fullers makes it look easy. 

Liz tells us what it used to be like growing up in Dorking and working in the family shop.

Both Andrew and I were often in the shop as children. Back then the shop took up to units—number 28 and 30. In number 28 South Street, we had bicycles and all the accessories as well as sports equipment, with a large showroom upstairs. The guns were locked in the window with a metal gun stores at the back of the shop behind the office where Grandpa would sit, restring rackets and fix guns. 

There was a massive workshop at the back to the left, full of cycles, spares for bikes, prams and pushchairs a very large workbench, vices, with tools hanging on hooks plus ceiling chains and hooks to hold the cycles. Mr Sherlock, our mechanic, was in charge of the area, he and Dad would work on repairs and service new bikes as well as teach young lads who worked after school and on Saturdays. The smell of oils, gunpowder, paraffin, rubber, as well as tobacco, would hang in the air. 

Between number 28 and 30, there was a walk through with a large boot cupboard full of wellies and Dr Martin’s. There was an area for prams and toys.  Both shops had cellars and a warren of rooms upstairs full of stock, with a huge flat roof we named the cycle graveyard. 

In October all the fireworks would go on display in glass cabinets.  At the time, it was my job after school to keep them stocked and priced. I also had to wash and scrub all the second-hand golf balls for resale while Grandpa taught me numbers in Punjabi. 

There were so many great regular customers from all walks of life, and we were taught to respect them all. Many staff came and went over the years, and as youngsters, they became our extended family. 

I remember on one occasion Dad was delighted and said he’d finally made it when in 1976 on the hottest day of the year he sold a pair of wellies. He and Mr Sherlock (Dorking’s very own Father Christmas duo) would hire a van on Christmas Eve and deliver bicycles and prams needed too. 

The shops were always full to capacity, and pride was always taken in window displays to showcase the products available.  Both Andrew and I left school and came to work in the shop, Andrew selling guns, fishing tackle and outdoor clothing and wellies. I originally sold prams and nursery at 40 South Street (now Firth’s next to Spotted Dog). 

Dorking has changed dramatically with the types of businesses from independents and chains. In the 70’ & 80’s Dorking was renowned for the West Street Antique trade, people would come from all over the world. There were local auction houses, and the market was in what’s now St Martins’ Walk.  Many of the buildings have had changes on the frontages but looking above they have stayed the same.

Listening to Liz and hearing the stories of Dorking and S C Fullers, it is a real honour to stand in their shop.  With such unique merchandise of country fashions, to fishing tackle to hunting paraphernalia and guns, this shop attracts many people from all over Surrey.  It has been known too that the odd celebrate pops in from time to time!

What we can take away from reading this blog is that the excellent customer service, pride in their shop and quality merchandising that they stock, has helped carry S C Fullers through generations and indeed through a changing High Street.  Not only that, but S C Fullers is a true reflection of the heritage, culture and spirit that Dorking has to offer to all who live here and visit this bustling town.

Fullers of Dorking for Shooting, Fishing, and Country Clothing

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Dorking Town Partnership
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T: 07377 0966892

E: charlotte@dorkingtownpartnership.co.uk

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