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Percy had in fact owned one of the shops since the late 1920s but after the Second World War, expanded the business by buying Miller’s Cafe that stood between his shop and the cinema. The enlarged shop was then divided into two separate departments, at which time Percy’s younger brother Wilf joined the business.

Wilf’s christian name was actually Sidney but he preferred to be called by the shortened version of his second name, Wilfred. His side of the store sold all manner of electrical appliances, while Percy sold china and glassware from his side. Ever the business man though, when popular music became more commercial in the 1950s and 60s, Percy seized on the opportunity to sell records and musical instruments. Moving the china and glassware to upstairs showrooms, his half of the shop quickly became a regular haunt of local youngsters and budding musicians.

To hear a record by your favourite artist was one thing but to actually see a pop star at that time, especially in Bishop’s Stortford, was something else. On consecutive Saturdays in April 1961, Wilf’s shop played host to singers Ricky Valance and Lance Fortune – each booked for a one-hour autograph signing session. Ricky Valance had hit the Number One spot the previous year with Tell Laura I Love Her, but neither singer was destined to be a major star. The Beatles, however, were major stars and though they never came to Percy Stevens shop to sign autographs, every record they released in the 1960s resulted in long queues of youngsters outside the shop wanting to buy a copy.

Percy still sold musical instruments up until the time the shop closed, but with increasing competition the record department, once run by Vera Bunting, was wound down some years before.


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