Rubber emporium

I got this lovely book, Shutting Up Shop: The Decline of the Traditional Small Shop by photographer John Londei. Taken over 15 years it documents all kinds of wonderful emporia - corner shops and general stores, milliners, drapers and lots of peculiar little specialist places like cork stores and this condom shop in Stoke. The shops are beautiful in so many ways and what's even better is the proprietors. Seeing them together gives a glimpse of a disappearing world. At the back there is an update on what happened to them all. Sadly, few survive which makes the photos all the more precious. The Still Open pool on Flickr documents those still going strong.

There's a shoe shop in the village that I grew up in (which is rather inspiringly called "Shoe Shop") which has been heroically ignoring the various advances (?) over the last thirty years. I've always imagined in as a front for some deviant group bent on world domination but I might be alone in that thought.

Simon James x

I wish I'd photographed my auntie's shop. It was quite literally a converted front room, with racks of sweeties in jars, 'Big T' loaves, Scott's Porage Oats, Peak Frean's broken biscuits (measured out by the quarter from huge, ancient tins) cake decorations and stationery. When she retired about 10 years ago they converted it back to their front room and renamed the house 'dunselyn'. I'm just old enough to remember when my mam would do the weekly shop from the baker, the butcher, the general grocer (who sold fresh eggs from a hay-lined bowl). Only the butcher is still thriving, though the baker is still open as a shadow of it's former self. How I hate supermarkets.

I have a photo of a shop window from the Thirties, with a display for Norwegian brisling designed by my grandfather, who worked there as an assistant:

I love the way he's really put his heart into it, although it's just a little grocer's shop in Stroud, and wish someone had taken more pictures of his efforts...

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