2 November 2001

Model tractors could please little farmers…

There is a new tractor outlet in Fordingbridge, Hants, but it is not just

farmers who are buying the very latest models, as Tessa Gates discovered

FOR Richard Hunt a love of tractors was in the blood. "I had a particular interest in tractors and machinery from a very early age and, like many other farmers sons, I used to collect Britains tractors for my toy farm," he recalls.

Now long since grown up and farming with his father at Grims Lodge, a 202ha (500-acre) mainly arable farm at Coombe Bassett, Wilts, Richard still has a lot of model tractors but nowadays they are kept strictly for business – his Little Farmer enterprise started earlier this year.

"I was trying to track down some models to give as a present last Christmas and I phoned a Britains distributor to find a shop that sold them in my area and he couldnt name one that I could get to easily. I realised that there was scope to sell them mail order from the farm and through agricultural shows and that was how I started," explains Richard.

Appearances at shows were curtailed because so many were cancelled due to foot-and-mouth restrictions but he got a good response at the few he attended. This and the need to find somewhere other than the farm from which to run the mail-order side, convinced him a Little Farmer shop would be viable. "I was offered a shop for a reasonable amount in Fordingbridge. Everyone I spoke to seemed to know where Fording-bridge was and being in the New Forest it attracts a lot of tourists."

The shop, at 31 Salisbury Street, opened last month and already sales are several weeks ahead of forecast. It is stocked with models by Britains, Bruder and Siku and also has some very realistic ride-on tractors by Rolly.

"Quite a number of customers have come in specially to look through our range but mostly its parents clutching catalogues marked with big circles round the models they want. People generally know what they are after."

Top seller at the moment is a larger scale Manitou telehandler made by Bruder – it could be this years must-have model for little farmers everywhere.

Inquiries 01425 655888.

Machinery mad youngsters and model collectors can find all things farming in Richard Hunts new shop – Little Farmer.