Not Just Military but ‘something for everybody’
As part of the Sheffield Antiques Quarter’s celebration of National Antiques Week, Sheffield Unchained is spending the week visiting some of the independents in the Quarter to find out the stories behind their businesses. Here is a small insight into the only military business in Sheffield…
“The only reason I’m trading is because my dad was a military dealer and had a gun shop and was a Sheffield legend. So I was brought up around militaria, I went on to train as a chef but then I decided it was too much like hard work, so I decided to go into the trade myself.”
Maxine Smith, 43, has owned Not Just Military, based in the same shop as Sheffield Antiques on Abbeydale road, since October 2011. Not Just Military sells general militaria from WW1 to present day, vintage clothing, military and out of print books. Maxine’s late dad Terry owned Just Military, also on Abbeydale Road between 1985 and 2005.
“We are the only dedicated military business in Sheffield, we provide a lot of services as well as selling miltaria, but we went for the name Not Just Military because my dad’s shop was called Just Military. Everybody knows who we are and we still get a lot of people coming in from back in the day.”
Maxine has been trading in militaria for over twenty years and before she owned a shop, Maxine used to trade solely at militaria and arms fairs, vintage, retro and 1940’s weekend fairs. However, with four children, she found it difficult to get away every weekend, so she decided that running a shop was more suitable. Maxine used to trade from a unit at Langtons Antiques on London Road, however her stock soon grew and Maxine and her friend Christine Merrick, who also had a unit at Langtons, decided to open a shop together.
“When we started here I didn’t want to do it on my own, so I decided to get a friend in, Christine from Sheffield Antiques, so she is like the front of the shop and I am the back.”
Maxine compares her business model to Aunty Wainwright’s shop in the long running BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine: “We’ve got something for everybody.”
Not Just Military sells books, magazines and publications of interest to militaria antiques collectors; they also sell rare antique and specialist militaria as well as equipment, uniforms, weapons and medals. The shop also offers a full medal service, including medal mounting for events like Remembrance Sunday. They often hire out military costumes and militaria for film props:
“We’ve just done a really good hire for Derby University. They were making a short film where they needed all the accessories; knives, forks, spoons, bags and a shaving kit.”
Maxine thinks the Antiques Quarter is ‘the most fabulous thing’:
“This used to be the antiques road. When I was a kid I used to get in a car with my dad and we’d spend the whole day here, half the day down one side and the other half down the other.”
She believes that being part of the Antiques Quarter has made a difference in bringing more people to the area:
“People need a piece of paper in their hand with a map on it and just that one flyer has meant that Saturdays are now very busy. Give people a map and it’s like an adventure, they go on that adventure and they work their way round. People just need direction sometimes.”