What can you tell us about John’s Books on Manchester Road?
That was the question which received the largest tally of online votes in our #AskExaminer feature which gives readers the opportunity to ask us questions.
For those not in the know, John’s Books sells adult DVDs, magazines, erotic paperbacks and other merchandise from a small detached building near Milnsbridge.
According to its current owner, Michael Bray, who took over in 2005, John’s Books started in the early 1970s and was owned by a man called, er, John, who hailed from Sheffield.
The Examiner visited on Thursday morning to chat to Michael, who was happy for the company as custom has dropped off in recent times.
Michael, who was watching Homes Under the Hammer and playing with his dog Buttons when we called in, said he was considering closing the shop for good next summer as it was only “ticking over”.
“The best years were long before I had it,” he said.
“It was a goldmine back then. I think the business then was all ‘underneath the counter’. I used to do building work here as it was always getting broken into and needed mending; that is how I got involved in this place.”
Thursday morning was quiet, with only one customer, a man who bought two DVDs. Three people called on Wednesday.
“It isn’t as good as it used to be but it still ticks over,” says Michael, who is 69 and lives in Paddock with his wife Linda, the shop’s R18-rated licence holder.
“Business is steady away now. I’m not making a fortune, but I don’t need to as I only need a couple of quid to support my pension.”
Some of his DVD suppliers have gone bust and the internet has also hit sex shops selling DVDs and magazines. John’s Books doesn’t sell online or through mail order.
“The shop’s licence is due for renewal in June, so I might call it a day then. I will weigh it up nearer the time.”
In the meantime, it is business as usual for his loyal customers, some of whom travel from Manchester and Bradford.
“We get all ages but a lot are older people in the 50s and 60s who don’t have the internet. We also get female customers. People now are more broad thinking and we will get two women coming in or women with their husbands.”
“Most of my customers are regulars.”
Sometimes he bumps into customers in town but they don’t talk about how they know one another. Michael also helps one customer get out of the shop without being spotted.
“I look up and down the road to see if it’s all clear.”
John’s Books is open from 10.30-5pm; closed Tuesday and Sunday.