The corner shop heroes of yesterday
PUBLISHED: 11:27 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:27 30 March 2020
There was an art in standing outside your shop to have a picture taken in days of old.
These men and women were more than shopkeepers. They were friends and they would go out of their way to help customers.
In these tough and challenging days we see queues of shoppers waiting to get into supermarkets and clear the shelves. People are worried. Life has been turned on its head.
But there are positive stories of people keeping an eye on each other and remember, not all elderly people have the internet.
Within their lifetime the way we live our lives has changed beyond all recognition – and so many of the corner shops, even if they weren’t on corners, have disappeared.
As the supermarkets opened people turned their backs on them. They couldn’t compete.
Take a walk down our streets in the city and in the towns and villages and you would have seen shops selling your everyday needs… and more.
The shopkeepers were proud of their establishments and their window displays were often works of art.
They were a statement. And what a better way to tempt you to step inside.
While milk, bread, groceries, papers, post and the rest were delivered to our door the chances were there was a shop “down the road” run by friends.
They were people we treated with great respect and they played a leading role in community life.
And to have their photograph taken standing outside their premises they were so proud of was a great honour.
These pictures would have appeared in our papers over the years. Others were turned into post cards and sent all over this country and across the world.
Many of the shopkeepers were “celebrities” before the word was invented. Well, almost!
We had some wonderful photographers who would head out on their bikes to take pictures and return the next week to sell well.
One of the best was Tom Nokes (1869-1943). We will look at his wonderful work in weeks to come.
Thank you so much for all your response to our stories in recent weeks. That’s what makes our job so interesting – hearing from YOU our readers and our friends.
I really appreciated all your calls and emails to tell us it was actress Sheila Burnette who was in the picture with dear old Sid James and Leslie Crowther at Great Yarmouth which we used last week.
The photograph was taken at a carnival parade called Ride with the Stars, more to come on that later.
We will also be meeting the team who worked at the cinema in Norwich like no other.
In the meantime let us know if you have memories of your favourite corner shop.
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And please, keep an eye on each other during these difficult times.
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