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Army brothers look forward to a summer surge of business

08 July 2021

One of Middlesbrough’s most distinctive and best-known retailers is looking forward to a summer surge of business and a delayed 10th birthday celebration.

Military surplus supplier Buckshees opened its shop in the Dundas Centre in November 2010 but plans to mark the occasion had to be shelved because of the pandemic.

The business was launched a lot earlier – nearly 30 years ago – when Jeff Carroll left the army, soon to be joined by his brothers Johnny and Steve. 

They all served in the 15th/19th The King’s Royal Hussars and had spent dozens of years in various posts around the world. 

“We left as tank commanders and in those days there wasn’t much going for tank commanders,” said Johnny. “Retail wasn’t an obvious route, but it was something that my brother fancied doing.  We started off on the markets with a bit of army surplus and then it just grew and grew.” 

Their success encouraged the brothers to have a more permanent home at the Dundas Indoor Market.  They were there for 18 years before opening their shop in the centre. 

Like many retailers their business has been affected by the pandemic, but they have survived difficult times before.

“2008 was a really bad year after the banking crisis and during the Foot and Mouth outbreak 2001 nobody was allowed to camp or go out in the countryside,” said Johnny.

He is hopeful that the final scrapping of COVID restrictions and the school summer holidays will encourage staycationers to come to the shop for their camping supplies: cookers, walking boots and outdoor clothing. 

Prior to the pandemic Buckshees was also benefitting from the new craze of Airsoft, where teams target their opponents with replica air weapons which fire plastic projectiles. The growing number of North East Airsoft sites will be allowed to re-open from 19 July.

Since leaving the army the brothers have retained their connection with the military through both what they sell and the support they have provided for charities which support ex-service personnel. 

They have raised around £30,000 for Help for Heroes and have collected another £10,000 for the Royal British Legion. They are understandably proud of their contribution which they believe has helped to make a difference.

“Ten years ago people leaving the services weren’t getting the support they needed and a lot of them were slipping through the net and ended up on the streets. Thankfully, that’s changed now,” said Johnny.

Buckshees is one of the longest-standing retailers in the Dundas Centre.  Market manager David Harris said the business – like all the other independent traders based there – could play a key role in shaping Middlesbrough’s shopping future. 

“With the closure of H&M this week we’re unfortunately going to be seeing yet another well known name disappear from the town centre and very sadly more shop workers are losing their jobs,” said Mr Harris.

“Many of the businesses in the Dundas Centre – such as Buckshees – sell items you are unlikely to easily find anywhere else.  We have many other retailers providing unique products they or their suppliers have made.”

He added: “The people who run these shops come from this community and definitely go the extra mile in offering both personal service and expert advice. That, I believe, is increasingly what shoppers want and what they can expect at the Dundas Centre.” 

Mr Harris said he would like to hear from local people who are thinking about starting a new business or relocating their existing one. In particular he would welcome interest from a baker, florist, barber or greengrocer.

For more information visit www.dundasshoppingcentre.co.uk/dundas-market