IN ANY industry, keeping up with the times is hard work.
And when your trade is providing toys and models, you don’t just have technological progress to contend with - there’s the attention span of your younger customers, too.
All of which makes the achievement of one Rugby shop all the more remarkable.
In 1981, John Hughes and Tony Cooke opened a model shop in Lawrence Sheriff Street. By combining parts of their first names, they came up with the name Joto Hobbies - and his month the shop is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Joto started as a model train shop but since then it has slowly expanded into an Aladdin’s cave with every wall covered in different model kits and toys over two floors.
With names including Hornby, Scalextric and Airfix on the shelves, Joto now attracts hobbyists from across the Midlands.
Since 2000 the shop has been in the hands of Tony’s daughter, Liz Twynholm, who has worked at the shop for 28 years and with the help of Manager Val McCafferty they have ensured that Rugby’s crafting needs are catered for.
Liz said: “I think people like our shop because it reminds them of their childhood toy shops.
“We are unique because you can’t walk into a shop like this in many places and you’ll find things here that you won’t find in many of the big craft stores.”
John Bird has been with Joto for over a year and has been developing their website, www.jotohobbies.com where visitors can now view and purchase items online.
And aside from the task of remaining appealing to the notoriously changeable tastes of youngsters, the shop has had to see off three recessions, too.
Liz said: “It’s really good to reach the 30 year milestone especially, in the current climate where so many people are struggling. Some of our customers have been with us right from the very start.”
Joto is a popular stop for tourists to the town as they sell Rugby football souvenirs as well as postcards, flags and even Rugby rock.
As trends and crazes came and went, Joto has evolved and stayed relevant to include the likes of Pokemon, Sylvanian Families and Warhammer in its stock to keep the next generation of collectors and modellers coming in.
Liz said: “There hasn’t been any huge change in what we sell or how we work - the shop has just gradually grown and added things over the years to what it is now.
“We’re still going strong and hopefully for many more years to come.”
To mark the occasion last Saturday, customers to the shop received discounts and a clown gave away balloons and prizes.
And the shop is still a good place to work, according to Liz. She said: “We enjoy providing good customer service and each day still brings a new challenge.”