The Wearside store which was an Aladdin's Cave for toy lovers

The weather's turning, the mornings have a crisp feel to them and stores across the North East have Christmas goodies on their shelves.

Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, 11:00 am
The outside of the Lermans shop in 1977.

And as far as Wearside Echoes is concerned, it is never too early to take a look back at festive seasons gone by.

So today, we are appealing for your memories of a toy shop which was a favourite for many years.

Look at the huge range of products on show.

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We are heading back to 1977 to remind you of Lermans, the Holmeside shop which stocked 2,500 different toys that year to appeal to all tastes.

Popular dolls such as the Bionic Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man were on sale.

There was Yogi Bear, Emu, Action Men and Nookie Bear.

And that year, Lermans was branding itself as “a toy discount store – the first in Sunderland”, according to an advert in the Sunderland Echo.

Children had a great time trying out the toys.

The advert added: “The family company has been in Sunderland for more than 30 years but it is only in the past four years that the emphasis has been on discount sales.

“Now, from the Holmeside shop, Lermans plan to set the pace for price cutting over the festive season.”

Bosses described the place as a veritable Aladdin’s Cave for children of all ages with many toys at discount prices or with big sale reductions.

The 1977 festive season was a special one for Lermans because it started with a three-day sale in October that year.

There was a special offer on for customers. The first 20 to spend more than £5 in the sale was going to receive a £5 sports bag free of charge.

And it wasn’t only toys which were stocked. The Echo said in 1977: “The shop also has a good line in reasonably priced sports equipment. One of the most popular pieces of sports gear recently has been skateboards and protective wear for the brand new sport.”

Just take a look at some of the Lermans offers that year. ‘Real American skateboards’ were selling from £9.99 and talking tanks were selling for £3.95.

Mr Potato Head was 60 pence and Lone Ranger and Tonto was £2.

You could get plastic chess sets for 70 pence, Daleks for £2.20 and models of Chieftain tanks for £1.99.

A Billy Basset walking hound was £1.25 and Ideal racing snakes were £1.99. A Top of the Pops game was £2 and Action Man Skyhawk was £3.

The store had 100 pairs of Pat Jennings leather training shoes to sell at £4.99.

If you think that stores turning their attentions to Christmas early is a modern thing, think again. Presto was selling packs of 20 Christmas cards for 30 pence and a five-pack of wrapping paper for 12 pence.

At Binns, winter coats were in the news with suede jackets at £89.95 and trench coats at £109.50.

Joplings had just taken delivery of 3,000 pairs of long boots with full zip. The wet look style was selling for £1.95 and those with a platform sole was up for grabs at £3.95.

There were plenty of other stores offering great prices on goods in 1977.

The Grangetown Keramik Emporium, in High Street West, had Bronco bikes from £16.99 and sport bikes from £9.99.

At RC Mallens in Vine Place, you could get pure wool suits, jackets and slacks.

The Christmas club was up and running at M.Woodgates in Adelaide Row, Seaham, where cassette recorders, music centres, hair dryers and tongs were all selling.

Oven ready turkeys were in the shops and you could get them from AG Gibbons in Nile Street, Sunderland for 40 pence a pound. It was also selling Arctic rolls, 1lb packs of scampettes, and lots more besides.

Also in Sunderland, R&C Gowland in Cleveland Road and Tunstall Road was offering beef, lamb and pork for all your freezer needs.

An Echo feature at the time said: “Buy your Christmas and party season food now and you can prepare in peace.”

Laws Supermarket, in The Galleries in Washington, had big reductions in all departments including yogurt at seven and a half pence, corned beef at 52 pence and wines from £1.15.

But what are your memories of the 1970s shops of Sunderland?

Which was your favourite and which pre-Christmas bargains do you remember grabbing? Email your memories to [email protected]