Friday, 9 April 2010

Bring back our friendly local grocery shop

They’re building another supermarket in our area and I really don’t think we need it. I accept that it would now be very difficult to go back to those pre-supermarket days. Our shopping patterns have changed since the 1960s along with our currency but, being the incurable nostalgic that I am, I long to return to the days of Mr Sharp, with his brown overalls and broad grin, and his friendly local grocery shop with its £.s.d. till that didn’t need electricity to make it work. Of course, this was all long before we knew about such things as:

BOGOFs (buy one get one free offers)
It’s a strange concept. Buying something we don’t want because it comes as part of the package. Mr Sharp would be turning in his grave if he could see all those melons ending up on people’s compost heaps.

Fruit with a label saying ‘ripen in the fruit bowl’
It won’t. It doesn’t. Mr Sharp always sold us fruit that was ready to eat on the day of purchase.

Mass packaging
One of these days I’ll stand at the supermarket checkout and unwrap all those multi-layered items, pile the wrapping on the conveyor belt and walk out with my food and nothing but my food. Mr Sharp used to drop the items into Mum’s wicker shopping bag. No need for any wrapping at all.

The trolley-battle mentality
A visit to our local supermarket means fighting for trolley space along aisles full of strangers. Even the people on the checkout are only vaguely familiar. Shopping at Mr Sharp’s grocery shop was a social event. He knew us by name and so did all his regulars.

Queues at the checkout
I have been known to take one of the supermarket magazines off the rack, sit on the floor, read it and replace it, all before reaching the front of the queue. Mr Sharp would have got his wife down to help. Queues like that would never have happened.

Expensive impulse buying
This is encouraged by clever display and marketing and cancels out any savings that I might make by buying one of those items where the supermarket greatly undercuts the local shops. I admit that with very careful price checking it is possible to make savings but you have to have a steely determination to resist the rest and I’m afraid I don’t have one of those so...

...bring back our friendly local grocery shop.

[Mr Sharp would be well in his hundreds by now so I do realise that we can’t bring him back... but it's a nice thought all the same.]


  1. I hate giant supermarkets and will avoid them at all costs, even using Tesco delivery to avoid them! I can't stand dodging people in narrow aisles and trying to find a packet o spaghetti in a forest of noodles.

    I agree: bring back small grocery shops!

  2. Agreed, Talli. It always amazes me that we need to have such a vast choice of pasta shapes.

  3. I'm with you, Rosalind. Giant supermarkets are impersonal, badly designed and unaccommodating for the volume of people and trolley's.

    They drive me to the point of madness!

    I frequent a little butchers shop which hasn't changed in 44yrs. Can you believe it - 44yrs! There is no electronic register, so the only method of payment is cash (just like the good old days). The rickety front door tinkles when you enter where you are greeted by the owner - who remembers your name. In the middle of the store is a huge round chopping block, in which has been there since it opened. Your goods are wrapped in newspaper before he waves you off with a friendly smile.

    They do exist!

  4. I don't remember ever having a friendly neighbourhood grocers. Wish we had one now!

  5. Your local butchers shop sounds excellent, Wendy. We do have some local shops in the UK but to my knowledge nothing as original as the one you've described.

    Unfortunatley, Jemi, you probably can't remember a friendly neighbourhood grocer because you're much younger than I am. *sigh*

  6. Have you seen Food, Inc.? Most worthwhile. Local groceries are an excellent idea; we don't need a vast sea of food-like substances. We need the real thing. We've also been enjoying Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on Friday nights (ABC network). He's impressive, to say the least!

  7. Here in Israel the local 'makolet' ( grocer) is still alive and well and is, in fact, the first commerical building to be built in every new area - along with a greengrocer and 'freezer' shop which stocks frozen fish and meat.
    We enjoy the convenience for last minute forgotten items and when it's not worth shlepping to the supermarket, but his prices are far higher than the super's. Personally, I'm afraid that the personal touch and friendliness don't make up for the high prices and lack of choice of produce - but it's still very convenient that he's there.


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