Shop Local: Locksmith explains the key to success of his hometown shop

PUBLISHED: 17:02 02 November 2020 | UPDATED: 17:02 02 November 2020

John Seekings (pictured), owner of The Lock Shop, said he stocks around 100,000 keys and boasts a wall of old locks he has collected during his career. Picture: IAN CARTER

John Seekings (pictured), owner of The Lock Shop, said he stocks around 100,000 keys and boasts a wall of old locks he has collected during his career. Picture: IAN CARTER

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On the right-hand side of The Lock Shop in Chatteris, there is a wall of old locks collected by John Seekings over time.

John Seekings, owner of The Lock Shop, said he stocks around 100,000 keys and boasts a wall of old locks he has collected during his career. Picture: IAN CARTERJohn Seekings, owner of The Lock Shop, said he stocks around 100,000 keys and boasts a wall of old locks he has collected during his career. Picture: IAN CARTER

John, owner of the Park Street shop, likes to think of this as his own museum of locks during his career in the locksmith trade, which has spanned for more than 40 years.

“I retired six years ago, but they didn’t want me to,” John said.

“I don’t need to make lots of money; we are here for the people. We’ve got a man with a van that helps, but we are always here, and at a reasonable price.”

John, from Chatteris, was a representative for a building manufacturer, as well as owning a lock shop in London for 12 years.

Having moved to the capital aged 16, the former industrial chemist then returned to his hometown to open another lock shop, which he has been running for 30 years after his father retired.

As well as how his business has thrived, there was another thing John was keen to mention during our visit.

“We have people that come from miles for keys. I have one of the highest key stocks in the eastern counties, around 100,000,” he said.

“I’ve been collecting stock since I was in London and I also have original Victorian stock. They are done by hand and although it is not economically viable, I still do them.

“Doing locks by hand is a dying art. There are not many people that do this. It can be really annoying and intense.”

John also used to fit locks as a side option before coming back to Fenland, and has developed a successful rapport with customers ever since.

You would be dazzled by the choice of locks in John’s shop, but it’s not just variety that continues to draw in residents.

“If a code does not work first time, I will do it again and check it again and say ‘this is why’. If you get a problem, come and find me,” John said.

“I thought I had enough in London. We had the same thing there as we were getting in Chatteris.

“There is enough business to keep me going. People look and think ‘he’s doing well’, but if you have two people running the same business, you won’t make a living.”

Find The Lock Shop at 17 Park Street, telephone 01354 694246 or visit their Facebook page.

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