“I’m just nipping to the corner shop” was an often heard phrase in our house. Mid-way between us and the main shops, themselves only five minutes away, the corner shop was a ramshackle place but handy for all types of groceries and more. They kept going into the early Seventies before being converted back into a domestic property.
Images of old retail environments often bring the past to life (I find myself watching the unremarkable Still Open All Hours sometimes to see what vintage goodies the prop people have used to decorate the set!). Usually you just see the shop staff posed in the doorway but this photograph takes us inside and gives a glimpse of the goods on the shelves of a small grocery shop circa 1910. Interestingly all the foods here are already pre-packed except for the eggs, and there are packets of tea and coffee, quite a few tinned goods – apricots, peaches, pears, salmon – and also jars with meat paste, what looks to be Camp coffee essence, and quite a lot of home made bottled jam. There are also a few boxes of Chivers’ Table Jellys which would have been a bit of a luxury item. The wooden shelves themselves are also very typical of the time, with the turned support alternating with a plain one.
Then tucked away in the corner is the shop assistant, smartly dressed underneath his shop overalls. And with a cigarette on the go as well.
Nothing tells us where this was, though as it was found locally it’s tempting to think it may be from the Sheffield / Chesterfield area. Back then there were small corner shops every few streets.
The print has rounded corners which look like someone has done this themselves. As the person with the camera was clearly proud enough of their shop to take the photo, I could see them making this bit of extra effort.