Friday, 13 February 2015

Open all hours

Islwyn Thomas ( left) worked in the village shop for many many years
He still lives in the village. This photo was taken in the 1950s

My rose tinted view of everyday Trelawnyd is let down just a little by the absence of a village shop. Now the garage which lies a quarter mile East of Trelawnyd has a busy " Spar " shop which sells everything from coal to tinned custard but it is what it is...fairly grotty shop which is also a busy petrol station.
It is not an " open all hours" shop in which you can stand and have a chinwag. The shop of our childhood, you know the sort, the one which had an old wooden chair by the till, so older customers could sit and rest.
Every morning, a steady stream of hat and scarf wrapped figures can be seen walking along the open road out of the village to the shop. They always remind me of wartime refugees for some reason., wrapped up tightly against the cold with their newspapers tucked under their arms.
The walk is just too far and too cold for many of the village elderly to complete safely.
The garage shop is always busy, I went up there this morning for bread and saw Animal helper Pat, the white haired chap from Well Street, and one of the village counsellors, so it does, indeed cater for a local need, but I do mourn my fantasy shop in the centre of the village where an apron wearing grocer slips Mrs Trellis an extra sausage in some blown paper packaging with a knowing wink



32 comments:

  1. I grew up with the Yank equivalent, and do miss it terribly.

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  2. And I think I'm right in saying you could take the dog in there. I know our spaniel certainly did - he nicked a quarter of ham from a woman's basket while my mum waited to be served.

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    1. Our previous village butcher used to come to the shop door with bones for our dogs! He would serve me at the door too when I had the dogs with me. I would just open the door and ask for what I wanted and he'd bring it to me. I miss him.

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  3. "...slips Mrs Trellis an extra sausage..." Found it!

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    1. I was going to make a remark about 'slips MrsTrellis an extra sausage' but I see you beat me to it!

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  4. Here in Australia the loss of the local corner shop is horribly evident . It's seems that all the big multi national stores prevail . I used to love our corner shop and it was quite a community based shop . Times are a changing .

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  5. Our nearest shop, post box, pub is five miles away. We don't even have a bus service.

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  6. The village I grew up in had a lovely little shop - a bit of everything, never going to be the only place you ever shopped, but enough to bail you out if you needed a pint of milk or hadn't anything in for dinner. Gradually during the '90s the Post Office started closing down their smaller branches and the little counter in the village shop went - with everyone having to go to the nearest town for their pensions, giro, stamps, savings etc. they did their little bits of shopping while they were there and our little shop couldn't keep going.

    There's still a pub in the village but it's a long way from the Victorian photos that Mum inherited that show the village bakers, butcher, grocer and wheelwright, an anvil on the green for the visiting blacksmith and a smaller serving hatch at the pub where the children could go to buy lemonade.

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  7. My Saturday job when I was 14 was in a shop just like that. People, my Mum included didn't pay day by day, they had a little book that we wrote the total in, and they settled up as and when. I got into big trouble once because I had a mars bar written in the book, thinking it was free, and when my Mum found out she chased me with the hair brush up the stairs...

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  8. You and Chris should open a village shop! I am sure bloggers far and wide would come for a chat and sit on the wooden chair by the till!

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  9. Yes, I'd come visit any shop where you and Chris might be hanging out - I'd even bring a folding chair of my own so we could sit and chat!
    The one in my village from the late 40's is still there though no longer a Post Office, I think it's a Spar now - and it's always my first stop when I get back for a visit. I'll be there this June with my beautiful 18 year old granddaughter (her graduation from high school present) relating my childhood stories of the village, and visiting the few family members and friends left in the Torquay area.

    Memories, both sad and sweet, but thanks for rekindling them in my heart.
    Mary -

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  10. I have the old British sit-com "Open All Hours" on DVD, fun stuff. My hometown had two local shops, both closed by the late 1970's.

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  11. The closest we came to that mythical shop was a general store in RR2 Orillia. You still had to drive a couple of concession roads to get to it though.

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  12. my suburb used to have a tiny supermarket, it was probably not destined to survive in competition with the behemoth chains but i suspect it may have had a chance if not for the atrocious attitude of the owner. what a grump.

    it's a bright shiny new pharmacy now which is nice but i wonder how pharmaceuticals became more ubiquitous than basic food groups

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  13. Mom and Pop shops are a thing of the past here. The little guys don't have the resources to compete with the corporations.

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  14. We had 5 of the small mom and pop shops when I was small . The one close to us had penny candies. My grandmother would make a list for the one near her and send me down to the store with a quarter to spend for just me. The shop owners knew me and would call grandma if there were any questions. Miss those shops ...We have 2 supermarkets to choose from now or the big box store....not the same.

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  15. Perhaps you could open one.........doubt you'd have time with your already busy life though.
    One can dream! xx

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  16. A shop, church and school keeps a community going. They bring people out of their houses, to chat in the street and meet up. Otherwise, if everything is outside the village, people jump in their cars and the village is deserted.

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  17. Ah yes; I remember it well.

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  18. We all miss something that was and no more.

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  19. Beyond a possibility that you could open one John? Just like Debdor I too worked in such a shop when I was 14. One elderly gentleman had hours of fun when I used the old vegetable weighing machine...getting me to put in and take out single potatoes until he had exactly 2lb..not an ounce under or over.......oh go on John your shop would be so popular! x

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  20. did they have one of those tills!?

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  21. This shop was on a corner in my grandma's neighborhood. I could walk the two blocks with my penny for candy.

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  22. Pure nostalgia, the village grocer in his brown over-all coat, weighing out commodities from large sacks / boxes, also sold just about everything else. Ours disappeared decades ago.

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  23. We lived next door but one to our village shop when I was young. Friday teatime was pocket money day, so we would go round to buy a 10p mix up and spend a very long time deciding what we wanted. Poor Mr Harrap the shopkeeper had the patience of a saint.
    Twiggy

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  24. I don't have quite the rosy view that so many here have of their childhood shop. Our store owner was curmudgeonly and a bit lecherous, and the walk we needed to make was along a busy national highway - not the sort of thing we were allowed to do until in our teens!

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  25. You may be better off without a local shop for local people. Was it League of Gentlemen or Little Britain?

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  26. We have a little mom and pop shop on the corner, have had for many decades. When corporate developers approach, we all run out with wolfbane, garlic and crosses and send them flapping away on their leathery wings.

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  27. In my hometown we had a general store, although Mr Patrick didn't have foodstuffs on hand, but he had nearly everything else, including a wide array of penny candy.

    In my current location, there are several local shops that are more like niche stores: one is more gourmet foods, one is gourmet foods and a butcher shop, one is more like a butcher shop with regular foods, and one is very near the harbour and does a brisk trade with any number of mariners who look for someplace within walking distance from the public landing where they can get victuals.

    I've used all of them as well as two nearby health food stores. the one that's less busy has clerks who are very happy to chat; the busier one has polite clerks, but they are usually too busy to have more than just a few seconds to chat.

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  28. Does anywhere still have a shop like that? Or is it the stuff of movies?

    Our grocery is about a mile away from downtown, but at least we have a grocery store. A lot of towns our size (7,000) don't. (I live in the U.S. Midwest.)

    I love your descriptions of the people walking. I can just see it in my mind. You have a good mental eye. Is that a thing? Now it is. You have the mental eye! Keep watching and writing! So exciting.

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  29. We have nothing ... in fact we don't even officially have a village, we are just houses dotted along and all over a hillside. There aren't even any continual grass verges or pavements, so to visit our neighbour I have to hop in the car ... it's the only way of ensuring I actually live to get back home!!

    If we need an emergency pint of milk, Bodnant Food is the same distance as Llanrwst, so I have to take my pick.

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