Founded by Terrence Bernard Spencer on Tuesday 1 May 1923, the final store in Telford, Shropshire closed on Tuesday 1 May 1990, 67 years later.
Terry or Tel Spencer as he was known throughout his life was born in Birmingham in 1882. As a 19 year old he joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and fought in South Africa 1901. His war was curtailed by a bad bout of malaria, his entire battalion recuperating and serving out the end of the Boer War in Bermuda as prison guards before returning to England.
In 1917 at the age of 35 during WW1 Terry was called into the Dunsterforce alongside other NCO’s drawn from the Western and Mesopotamian fronts. He was rightly decorated alongside his trusty Ford van for his bravery in the Battle of Baku.
On returning home to Birmingham Terry worked in odd jobs locally whilst finding his feet in the post war world. In 1923 Terry was starting to stray into drink and cards when by chance one night his luck turned on a single hand of Pişti in Tysley, Birmingham. Winning against infamous local Turkish businessman, known as ‘Bab Beyaz’. He was handed the deeds to a run down haberdashery called Yeterli Malzeme. Terry took the rough English translation as his chosen name and Adequate Supplies was born.
Selling washboards and tinned pies, the shop became a local hit with the steady supply of excellent goods, renowned service and Terry’s charismatic (if slightly eccentric) ownership. Just 13 years later there were four Adequate Supplies stores in the Greater Birmingham area, before the opening of the first much smaller Shropshire shop in Iron Bridge in 1938.
Too old by now to fight in WW2 Terry joined the local home guard unit bringing his enormous experience and enthusiasm to bear, rising to the rank of Captain by the end of hostilities. The shops of course all remained open, and whilst the shelves were a little emptier, Adequate Supplies name now became synonymous with Terry’s amazing ability to always have a steady flow of American cigarettes, coffee and decent local biscuits, under the counter.
Post 1945, Terry continued to grow the chain around Birmingham, Warwickshire and Shropshire culminating in the biggest store opening ever in 1965 in Telford. The new town had in fact been named after Terry Spencer himself after he won the honour in a competition in the Birmingham Sentinel. The rest of the 1960s and early 70s saw a period of unmatched success for the Adequate Supplies company – a household name around the West Midlands, an Adequate Supplies store was a common sight on every High Street and even some national recognition followed with Terry winning the prestigious High Street Gazette ‘Independent Shopkeeper of the Year Award’ in 1969.
Sadly as with much of the rest of Britain, the 70s saw a period of decline for The High Street as new bigger chains began to appear for the first time and led to the break up of Adequate Supplies’ and other smaller shops strangle hold on the local market. By 1980 the company had stopped growing but maintained a core loyal following and continued to trade adequately.
In 1982, Terry’s son Peter was made redundant from the Longbridge car plant and took over the running of Adequate Supplies on Terry’s 100th birthday. There was a special one off municipal bank holiday in Telford to mark the occasion and the flagship Adequate Supplies stores gave away one hundred commemorative plates.
The 1980s were a rollercoaster of success and failure for Adequate Supplies. Peter successfully introduced the trademarked Podium Ashtray Range which they manufactured for the first time themselves and shipped as far ashore as Bulgaria (in a previously little known thawing of the Iron Curtain trade relations). Sadly a bonanza shipment bound for Chile in December 1982 was seized mid-voyage by the navy of the Argentine Junta just outside the territorial waters of the Falklands. Doubling down, Peter lost a fortune on Poodle Toilet Roll Covers in the mid 1980s before clawing some back on a range of Smoked Glass Mugs towards the end of the decade.
But a slow and steady decline inevitably ended with the final store closure, when the flagship Adequate Supplies shop closed its doors on the High Street in Telford at 18 minutes past 5pm on Tuesday 1 May 1990.