HANDICENTRE, the beloved Nottinghamshire hardware chain celebrates 50 years this month.
The business began in December 1973, when a small DIY shop in Bingham was bought by John Rainbow. He renamed the store ‘Handicentre’ and this became the iconic flagship store in this local chain, now with four branches – the high street stores in Market Street, Bingham and Queen Street, Southwell, plus a builder’s merchants in both towns – Crew Lane in Southwell and Moorbridge Road in Bingham.
The Queen Street, Southwell store (pictured right) was opened in 1976 by Mick Rainbow and the business was later joined by the third brother, Bob Rainbow.
The two Handicentre high street stores have a reputation that belies their size, being famed for their Aladdin’s Cave status. They are well known for their painting & decorating departments, with the Colour Matching service, Heritage Paints, Harris Brushes and housing a huge range of decorating essentials, catering for both avid DIYers and the professional trade customers alike. All the stores supply compost and gardening goods, including seeds, tools and fertilizers.
Both Trade sites carry decorative gravels and aggregates in bulk quantity or smaller bags for little projects. Also plumbing, guttering, timber and plasterboard.
The shops have a good supply of bird food and feeders, and Southwell has updated the pet section to include dog treats, leads and toys.
At the original Handicentre in Market Street, Bingham, Manager, Martyn Harwood, started working for the company in 1976 and has been at the helm longer than many people can remember. Company buyers Ronnie Wightman and Andy Balls are based at Bingham but constantly travelling around all four branches co-ordinating staff and stock. Sarah Webster, one of the directors runs the office and keeps the company running smoothly.
Southwell manager Jo Bloomfield has been with Handicentre since 1995, originally starting at Bingham, moving to the Queen Street branch in 2006. Glenda has worked at Queen Street since 1979, whilst daughter Justine started in 1990. In fact, long serving members of staff are the norm throughout all of the Handicentre branches, forming the backbone of the business when it comes to giving customers experienced and valuable help and advice with all their DIY queries. Every Handicentre branch has their experts – whether it is the ‘paint lady’, the ‘plumbing man’ or the ‘light bulb woman’ – Handicentre well deserves its reputation for excellent customer service.
Meanwhile their vans are kept busy delivering composts and every other imaginable type of garden supplies direct to customers in Southwell and surrounding villages, whilst Bingham deliveries cover a large area including the Vale of Belvoir, Nottingham and West Bridgford.
The winter months see them keeping customers supplied with coal, logs, gas and rock salt and much much more. There is never a time of year when deliveries are not in demand.
Heading towards Christmas the extensive kitchen and cookware department attracts busy shoppers, together with Christmas lights and decorations. Worried about the big freeze? You will also find de-icer, pipe lagging, draught excluders, insulation, electric heaters and hot water bottles.
When you step into Handicentre it is, in many ways, like stepping back in time to a proper shop selling all manner of products that are integral to day-to-day life and it is reassuring to know that after 50 years Handicentre is still at the heart of its community serving a new generation of customers. Although the three Rainbow brothers are no longer actively involved in the running of the business it is still very much a family affair, with long serving members of staff now being at the helm. Handicentre is an integral part of life in the two towns and the team hope that Southwell and Bingham are very much the richer for being the home of this locally run business.