Local shops – a dying breed


When did you last visit a local shop?

Image courtesy of Maggie Land Blanck
Image courtesy of Maggie Land Blanck

As I grew up in Holbeck, we had a shop on almost every corner. Well, at least you never had to walk further than two or three streets to find what you were looking for. Most shops sold everything from “collar studs” to needle and thread. Yes I can still remember my father wearing shirts with detachable collars.

My local shop on the Cottingley estate is pretty much the same, selling things from super glue to dishwasher tablets and cat food. That is not all, it is very handy for the things you run out of like bread or milk and the best thing is that is works out cheaper than running up to Tesco express or the BP garage as you don’t need bus fare.

Many small shops priced themselves out of the market with the opening of supermarkets in the 1960s. Our first supermarket, excluding the Co-Op, was the “Jolly Rodger” which was opened by a small wholesaler on Domestic Street, on the site of the (now closed) library. It was a revolution when you could by half a pound of butter for a quarter of the price at the corner shop.

Domestic Street in Holbeck was made up of the ends of the back to back terraces and each end had two shops. We had the thrift part of a chain of grocery shops followed by a butchers, a wool shop, a greengrocers, two newsagents and another greengrocers and two shoe shops, one of which was the Stylo a national company now part of Barrett’s.

It was exciting to go to the shops. In the greengrocers, apart from apples, oranges and bananas everything else was seasonal, even potatoes – you had new ones from June until the old ones were ready. This added to the delight of strawberries in July, instead of the supermarket’s today which are tasteless, although they are available all year round. People took their time and had to wait to be served. Now we rush a round, feel put out if we have to wait at the checkout then we feel obliged to put our things away as fast as possible to complete our purchase. Otherwise you feel you are  holding the queue up and you can feel the wrath of  other customers waiting to be served.

With the increasing price of bus fares maybe local shops will have their time again.

This article was written by Diane McHale-Fannon using our Community Reporters website