When I was growing up in the UK, virtually all our home shopping was done at tiny so-called corner shops, usually run by husband and wife and a delivery boy. Supermarkets hadn’t yet been invented; everything was bought in specialist shops…greengrocers, grocers, butchers, hardware, leatherware shops etc.
I remember taking a list made up by my mother of stuff to buy, like bread, tins of soup, fruits, sugar, salt, etc. Funnily enough, I was never asked to buy vegetables or fresh fruit from the greengrocer, nor meat from the butcher. That made me rather angry…why was I not trusted with those items when I could buy anything else? Of course, later I learnt why….because mum wanted to see the fruits, vegetables and meats herself, before buying. I wouldn’t have known what was good and what was bad!
Later on, many years afterwards, those corner shops began to be owned by Asian shopkeepers who had settled in the UK. And the Asians were always the brunt of sometimes racist jokes about corner shops. We always used to wonder why the Asians preferred corner shops to regular stores on the High Street.
It was only around a year ago, that I met an old, retired Asian in Vancouver, who had first emigrated to England in the 50s, set up a successful chain of corner shops there, then sold everything and re-emigrated out of the UK, into Canada. I met him in a local shop in Surrey BC, where I was with my wife shopping for some clothing material she wanted. Soon as he heard that I was from the UK too, the reminiscing started!
I learnt everything there is to learn about running shops that day. But before leaving, I asked him that perennial question…why did Asians prefer corner shops? To which he replied straight away without hesitating. He said “…think of a corner shop…what do you see? How many sides does it have? Two, yes? That’s why we prefer corner shops…you get two sides for advertising your goods, not just one…!” Well, I guess that makes sense.
Anyway, I digress. I’ve always liked taking shots of these and other old stores and shops. For like it or not, these will all be gone in another 10 to 20 years, of that I’m sure. And in their place we will have more huge supermarkets, hypermarkets and so on.
Gone will be those quaint shop fronts, with mom and pop serving you in their white aprons.
I have a whole load of shots of these shops somewhere, which I intend to post on here for your enjoyment. Meantime, take a look at these ones below that I am reblogging…hope you enjoy them:
For more superb photos like the above, visit http://www.spitalfieldslife.com/2013/02/20/tony-bock-photographer/