A family-run shop in Mansfield is celebrating 40 years in business this week.
Brimbles on Regent Street is a coffee shop and takeaway, offering salads, cobs, hot carvery, pies and cakes, but when it first opened, it was a butchers shop.
Gillian Humber runs the business first started by her parents Ian and Jean Brimble in 1979.
Gillian joined the business in 1984 with the aim of having a summer job before then going on to college to study a BTEC in Business.
But she loved her job so much that she decided to stay on, eventually taking over from her parents when they retired in 2004.
Gillian said: “We had held our own against a lot of competition. But when I took over, I decided we needed to change to become a cafe and takeaway.
“It’s now more than a business, it is my life. I love it. The staff are great and a lot of the customers have become friends over the years.
“My parents instilled an ethos of delivering great customer service, with a smile and it seems to have worked well.”
In 1959, Ian Brimble had met his wife Jean when they both worked for Burton and Sons, later Fine Fare and is now home to the Mark Leeson salon.
Ian, now 75, was an apprentice butcher, learning his trade and Jean, now also 75, worked on the tills and on the shop floor.
They both rose through the management ranks but an opportunity arose to run an independent butchers shop.
Ian and Jean decided to go it alone and set up Brimbles - in the building it still occupies some 40 years later.
Now retired, Ian Brimble does spend time in the shop, preparing the meats. He said: “It’s amazing that what we started all those years ago is still going strong. Gillian is doing a brilliant job.”
The customer service hasn’t changed, but Gillian has seen some changes in the town over the years.
“They have been some tricky times,” adds Gillian. “The growth of supermarkets, particularly when they started doing more and more cheap meat, did have an affect.
“Of course, the demographics have changed a bit too. We used to have mining and textiles and we don’t have those industries now.
“I also think pedestrianisation has had an affect on the town centre as a whole. People used to be able to park right in the centre of town and pop into the shops. But Mansfield town centre is still a thriving place to be though and we wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
Tracey Hunt, who runs Toothill Prestige, in Toothill Lane, often has her breakfast at Brimbles.
She said: “If you don’t go in smiling, you’ll certainly leave smiling. The ladies here are fabulous and they have food that is suitable for everyone. They often have specials on as well so they know how to look after customers.”
Assistant manager Gayle Turner, who has been at Brimbles for 18 years, is also Gillian’s sister-in-law. She said: It’s lovely working here. It’s hard work, but Gillian is a great boss and the customers are fantastic.”
Nikki Rolls, chief executive of Mansfield Business Improvement District, commented: “It’s a huge milestone for a business to celebrate 40 years. A traditional shop, Brimbles is a great example of how customer service and reasonable prices can combine to be successful. Here’s to the next 40 years.”