How we used to shop? Oldies version.

This one is for the staff and those readers outside of College. I would like you to think back a couple of years (more for some 😉 ),

how did your family shop in the past?

Please can you tell us anything about the following….

How did your family do their main ‘shop’? In one visit, several stores (Name, names!), on the High Street etc..

How frequently do you remember your family shopping?

How did your family get their shopping home?

What did your family do if they ran short of an item?

Any little anecdotes about shopping in the recent past…

For example, a memory from me..

‘I remember we always had fish on a Friday night, after attending primary school, we would visit Mr Turner on Watnall road, my mother would buy five pieces of fish, which were first wrapped in white paper and then newspaper…’

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  1. geogtastic
    Posted March 27, 2007 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, a very interesting question!

    We used to do the main weekly shop at Hillard’s supermarket (before anyone had even heard of Sainsbury’s or Tesco!) in the village on a Friday evening – mum and sister and I used to walk there, shop, and then dad would come and pick us up on his way home from work.

    We also used to visit the village greengrocer – Jock Thompson – regularly. As I was the token “cute toddler” he apparently used to give me grapes – don’t remember that! I do remember getting free greens for my rabbit, Mopsy, though! Mrs Webster used to run the bakery in the village, and as a special treat (if we behaved ourselves when we were having our hair cut or when we’d been to the doctors) we were sometimes allowed to choose a bun for after tea! And when we’d been to see the doctor (who was married to the reception teacher at our primary school), we’d go across the High Street to the chemist, and if we had to wait a long time for a prescription, we could sometimes have one of those sugar-free lollypops that was like a whistle. On really special occasions, we were allowed a comic when my mum went to “pay the papers” at the newsagents.

    The only one of the traditional shops remaining in the village is a “gentleman’s outfitter” where my grandad always used to buy his handkerchiefs. It was run by a very scary bald beige man called John, and they had (and probably still have) one of those big old-fashioned tills. I’m not sure how much business they do these days though! But for the post office and the fish and chip shop, every other business in the village is now a beauty salon or a pizza/curry/kebab place.

    (And that is not THAT long ago in the big scheme of things…)

  2. Margaret Mallin
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    We used to have traders calling to the house. The Greengrocer, the Baker, The Corona (Pop) Man and the Milkman all used to call.

  3. S Doyle
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    This will tell you how old I really am!
    We used to have something called a ‘shop-bus’ that came round on a Friday evening. It sold tinned goods mainly, but we would be given sixpence to spend on sweets, so the arrival of the bus was greeted with much anticipation. It was owned by a man known as ‘Ken’ who knew the community so well, that when I had to go into hospital at the age of 5, he bought me a cuddly toy to comfort me. Believe it or not I’ve still got it!
    We also had a local butcher for meat, where my younger brother trained and we went to the greengrocer in town on a Saturday morning. I used to wait outside in the car with my dad and I called it the ‘black hole’ as the queue was so long I thought Mum would never come out!

  4. Mr Horton
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    As a child I remember walking with Mum to the One Stop market – a shop about 1/20 the size of the Tesco and Morrisons we now go to. There were three aisles with the sweets section just before the tills (all two of them). We then walked home with the shopping, at least one and half miles from the one-stop. Walking back we passed the post office, the butcher, the green grocer and a small schools clothes shop. Anything we had not got at the mighty one stop we got from these shops. Push chair and arms loaded to the max we all trundled home with the weekly shop. I don’t think we were unusually in doing this – everyone that I knew growing up did the weekly run. No running out to a local if the bread ran out. We of course with everyone one else had our milk delivered every morning by the co-op milk floats. Fish and chips were sold wrapped in yesterdays Telegraph and you would get newsprint all over your hands eating your chips. Going vegetarian at an early age (12) meant some very interesting meal combos as the term vegetarian had not enetered the main stream at that time. It took a good number of years before the wide selection of vege goods became available and only becuase of the rise of the hyper market giving choice. Sadly all of the shops that I visited as a child are now long gone, replaced by a hairdresser, Chinese and Indian take aways. I’m not anti Tesco’s or other hyper markets as the demise of the local shop is wholly down to the people that voted with there feet and wallet, and whilst they may hark back to the good old days you will find them next to the processed food goods on the second aisle!!! Just one more thing – you go to a supermarket now and buy a meal – not so long ago you went and bought the ingrediants for a meal and made it yourself, now you take the package off, bung it in the oven or microwave – classy!! and finally – with more and more people buying items of clothes at these places watch the demise of the city centre in the next twenty years. I went to a new hypermarket last year and walked past the medical drop in centre, the dentist and hairdresser – times are changing.

  5. john warrington
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Growing up in the 1950s and 60s the idea of a supermarket was something you only saw in American films
    All shopping was done in local specialist shops [baker,butcher, greengrocer] or the corner shop.
    I grew up in Oldham a cotton town near Manchester and it seemed that every terraced block had a shop or pub or chippy on the corner.
    We did not shop weekly but more as we needed it as the shops where nearby it was easy to do that plus we did not have fridges and freezers in those days so regular shopping meant fresher products.The shops needed to be nearby since nobody in the area let alone the street could afford a car.
    The goods themselves were often sold loose – you would buy butter, tea coffee,flour in paper bags weighed out by the assistant- there was no self serve back then
    The Coop had this amazing vacuum cash system where you paid the assistant say £5-00note for a bill of £2 12 shillings and 7pence – the assistant put the money into a small metal container which was dropped into a metal tube that sucked the container up to the finance department who put the change in the container put it back into the tube and it was sucked back to the assistant who gave you the change.
    A favourite place for after school was the herbal shop who sold drinks like saspirilla or dandelion and burdock and the the walls of the shop were lined with shelves each holding masses of blue tins and jars containing exotic herbs and spices.

  6. Rachel Thornhill
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I remember the Golden Gains toy shop in Derby (I think it’s now a pub!)- one of those small old fashioned shops that don’t exist anymore. I used to get my Barbie dolls from there and is was probably where mum did her christmas shop!

    I don’t think I’m that old that supermarkets weren’t a part of life, but I remember Fine Fares in Sinfin (I think that was what it was called) that we went to sometimes, but apart from that it would be into Alvaston with the wheeled trolley. Fruit and veg and cooked meats were from Murfins (where I later had my first Saturday job!)There was also a Clarks shoe shop where I was forced to get my shoes from until at least the age of 12! I was allowed to wear them home and the old ones went into the box!

    Happy days…

  7. Ben Wilkinson
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Several memories spring to mind. The first is that when I was a child going to Sainsbury’s in Leicester was regarded as a big treat where we could purchase exotic goods like croissants and ‘breakfast slices’ made of mechanically retrieved pig meat with added offal! These trips involved a twenty mile round trip with fish and chips on the way home.

    A Friday night ritual involved my mother, myself and my two brothers walking into the middle of town to Mac Market which was renamed International and then Somerfield to do the weekly shopping which we then carried home. We used to have to stop and rest at intervals on the way back and our hands became white and distorted with the cold on winter nights.

    The milkman delivered milk, cream and orange juice. The pop man from Hoyes in Leicester would call to collect last week’s crate and deliver the new bottles – dandelion and burdock and American cream soda were my favourites. Occasionally, the baker would call and we would choose cakes from his huge wicker basket.

    We visited the corner shop every day to buy items we were short of – milk, bread, tomatoes. The family who ran the shop knew all the customers by name and many had an account which would be settled weekly.

    Shopping with my grandparents felt very different. My grandad would go our every day to buy bread and any vegetables that were required (although he grew most of these himself). He visited the butcher and bought pig’s trotters, chitterlings, haslet and cow’s tongue as well as the weekly joint. They ate the same meals each week so they knew exactly what they needed. On Thursdays we were taken to Tommy’s sweetshop in Wodehouse Eaves where we would buy sweets in bags by the quarter pound.

    My grandmother would visit four different supermarkets (much smaller town centre affairs) to find the cheapest goods. When she found sugar and tea, she bought in bulk. Her spare room was full with these two commodities – the things she had missed most during the war.

  8. Posted March 28, 2007 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Wow, a brilliant set of memories, I have some others posted by email which I’ll share.

    Thanks and best wishes


  9. Posted March 28, 2007 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    From Mrs Blundell

    ‘Growing up down in Devon in the middle of nowhere we use to do once monthly big shops. We grew most of our own veg. There was no popping to the local shop as the nearest was 10 miles away. We had to be organised and also had a big freezer. I also rember that we never had brought cakes, squash or biscuites always home made.’

  10. Posted March 28, 2007 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Emailed by Mrs Thorne

    ‘We bought nearly everything in the Coop (or ‘Store’ as it was called where I lived!). It dominated the town & catered for everything from babyhood to wedding receptions to funerals. As well as the main shops, which effectively formed a department store, there were small branch grocery shops. Can still remember our Coop share no. (as can my 100year old mother, tho’ try to get her to remember a modern pin no. & she’s a hopeless case!). Of course, household shopping was ‘going for the messages’, not shopping.

    Coop Branch grocery shop within walking distance of house, so bulk of weekly shopping done there – plus local farm shop literally 100 yds away.

    Trip to Edinburgh for me as a child (7 miles distant) was a great adventure & a trip to Glasgow, where Lewis’s Department store (not J Lewis!) had an escalator, was like going on holiday!

    One of the department stores in Edinburgh had a small orchestra which played during the afternoon – going there was a special occasion!

    There were far more small shops, many more different department stores, almost no chains – & in Scotland definitely no Sainsbury’s or Tesco.

    Bigger shops still had central kiosk for payments & receipts, with vacuum shoots through which money sent. For ordinary families, all transactions were cash, unless you had an account with the shop (again, things like Coop & dept stores).

    Woolworth’s was the first to go self-service in my town (1960s).

  11. Posted March 28, 2007 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Emailed by Miss Toolin

    My memories of childhood shopping are largely from the late 70s and early 80s. I grew up in a village that was 5 miles from the nearest town ( which was a market town), so our shopping took place in a number of ways. There were three shops in the village where I lived – now there is only one. One was a grocers, who also held a stall on the weekly market, who sold fresh vegetables and fruit. The second was an old fashioned general store complete with a gorgeous glass chiller cabinet and marble counter. The shop keeper was a grumpy old man, who didn’t like customers shopping anywhere else. My mum once went in to buy bread – she didn’t normally get her bread there – only to be told by him to go back and buy her bread wherever she normally got it from! So much for customer services.

    We bought our fish from a mobile fish van which announced its arrival by tooting its horn. The fish man (I never knew his name) would open up his van to reveal a blanket of ice covered in various gleming fish. There was also a green butcher’s van – which still delivers to the village.

    Our weekly shop in the nearest town consisited of the market for fruit and veg and small supermarkets for mainly tins and processed foods. I remember we used to eat quite a lot of processed meat such as corned beef and luncheon meat. Food seemed a lot brighter then – thanks to all the colouring and e numbers and on the one hand was far removed from natural products e.g. we ate a lot of ‘dream topping’ instead of real cream; but on the other hand fruit and veg was fresher, seasonal and because it was from a market stall was ‘dirtier’. Quite different from today where fruit and veg is packaged and sprayed and always the right shape.

    Of course I say fruit, but most of the fruit I ate as a child came out of a tin and was drenched in syrup and evaporated milk – mmm!

  12. Tom Biebrach
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    To be honest my family would shop in the supermarket of the day Key Market, Co-op or something similar. Not that much different to today. However, now I choose to shop at the local farmers’ market (when it is open), try to avoid processed food (unlike the highly processed mini-Kievs I would eat as a child) and where ever possible avoid the major chainstores though my town has been dubbed Tesco-town, due to there being 4 tesco stores in an average sized ‘market town’. Perhaps my relative affluence (compared to the grim old days where we didn’t have a pot to p*** in!) means I can make that choice, that is certainly not the case for all.

  13. Posted March 28, 2007 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Tom for an alternative viewpoint. If you have any information on the impact of Tesco on your local town, it would be great and make a good case study to compare with Ilkeston.

  14. Alan Parkinson
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    We used to live in a shoe box in’t middle of road!
    Well, not quite..
    Yorkshire 1960’s childhood…
    The pop man and getting a deposit on the bottle…
    Mumford’s butchers for meat pies, Smiths for sausages.
    Getting a slap because I wouldn’t eat this new food called pasta…
    Ice cream van – taking out a bowl and getting it filled up…
    A small supermarket with rickety trolleys and the old ‘Top of the Pops’ cover version albums… for some samples
    Then in the 1970s I got a Saturday job in a local greengrocers.
    No self service, we used to put all fruit and veg in bags and if we didn’t have any of a particular item the stock answer was “sorry love, it’s not in season…”
    I kept a diary at the time too, and a portion of chips was 6p !
    And you try telling that to the kids today, and they won’t believe you !!

  15. Posted March 29, 2007 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Nice Alan, I can remember when we first got the magic microwave that could do baked potatos in five minutes, then we had them every night. I’m sure now it would be a health and safety matter, as it shot its deadly rays across the kitchen. 😉

  16. Alan Parkinson
    Posted March 29, 2007 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    My mum wouldn’t have a microwave as she read about somebody who leant against the kitchen counter and it cooked his kidneys ! (possible urban myth….)
    We had a fish van that came from Grimsby and sat in the pub car park up the road, and my mum used to bake most of the bread we ate.

  17. Christine Clarke
    Posted March 29, 2007 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Living in lancashire in the 1950s shopping was very local. Never heard of a supermarket until I was at least 11. The first was the Co-Op called Krazy Cuts, walked there taking the shopping trolley with my Mum who still can’t drive. No package meals all cooked at home, but always fish and chips on Friday from the chip shop on the corner Len Brindles, the good old days, perhaps not!

  18. Posted March 29, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Email from Mrs Muir

    I remember going to the Co-op in Smalley (it’s a house now) with a list and being served over the counter. Butter was cut and weighed from a huge block and bacon was sliced on a machine with a large handle. The butcher (from Stanley Common) came round the village in a van with fresh meat and we bought milk (in a jug) and eggs from the farm across the road.

  19. Posted March 29, 2007 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Hi Christine and thanks for your first comment!

    My mum brought me a microwave for Christmas Alan, it was still in it’s box three weeks into the new year, she wasn’t impressed 🙂

  20. geogtastic
    Posted March 29, 2007 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Alan – there’s still a fish van from Grimsby in the Co-Op car park in Ripley once a week!!

    Talked to my mum about this tonight (until she realised it was something geographical – and then she had to go and unpack her shopping… she’d just got back from her weekly shop at Sainsbury’s at 9.20pm… she normally does it on a Friday morning, but they’d run out of milk – the milkman still brings a pint a day, which is fine unless dad has cornflakes for his breakfast!). She told me that Jock Thompson, the greengrocer, also used to deliver our Christmas tree every year. And apparently, Sainsbury’s opened when I was 5 (about 21 years ago).

    Also, my gran apparently used to buy Horrock’s pillowcases from the gentleman’s outfitters (apparently called Briggs’s) – and I’ve dreamt that the bald beige man was called John… but he’s still about!! My mum says she was convinced for some time that he was called Horrocks because of the pillowcases…

  21. geogtastic
    Posted March 29, 2007 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Tony – I’d be interested to hear from Mrs Muir where the Co-Op in Smalley was. I’ve tried to find out about the history of my house, and can get very little from directories or census information because everything was re-numbered relatively recently and no-one seems to be able to tell me what used to be what!

  22. Posted March 30, 2007 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    No problem, I’ll pass this on for.

  23. Angela Calvert
    Posted May 1, 2007 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    I grew up during the 1970s and 80s in a small village on the very edge of Barnsley. We used to shop in the local town, Wombwell, where I would take my £1 pocket money and share it equally between the Woolworths (now Ethel Austin) where I would buy a book or a toy and then go over to GTNews (Now a cheap ‘we sell EVERYTHING’ shop) to buy a vinyl single.

    We would do a weekly shop in the local Hillards and about fornightly would travel to Barnsley for special items and a lunch of pie and pies – this would be in the indoor market and would involve trying to find your food through the haze of smoke as everyone in their puffed away. We would then go to the vegetable stalls and me and my sister would be allowed on the carousel (this is still there and still operates) whilst my mum ran round and did her shopping.

    If anyone does have the pleasure of visiting Barnsley you must go to the meat and fish market. It is still as thriving today as it was all those years ago. We used to get tripe and dripping for my dad – no wonder I turned vegetarian soon after.

    Life became very interesting during the miners strike when the whole of my village (Cortonwood) struggled for money and food. A soup kitchen was set up for those really in need and the rest of us had to get very imaginative with spam and potatoes!

  24. Angela Calvert
    Posted May 1, 2007 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    I also remember the pie and pea man coming round in a van – he would ring a bell and we would run out to get our ‘takeaway’. We also had a ‘pop man’ who brought bottles of Ben Shaw when we had money and Panda pop when we didn’t. We were allowed one bottle of cream soda and the rest was boring lemonade. I think my mum thought there might actually be some fruit in it.

    We also had a shop on wheels where you could get bread and milk etc but they did sweets in the tall jars – a bag of Yorkshire Mixture kept me quiet for hours!

    On a more controversial link, an Asian shopkeeper moved into our village in the early 1980s (I think) and had to put up with an horrendous amount of abuse and damage to his shop. I wouldn’t like to think what he went through and I imagine I had a censored view being a child but the good news is he is still here and is one of the cornerstones of our community despite losing a lot of business to the local Morrisons which has opened up less than 1/2 mile away.

  25. Posted May 2, 2007 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Angela, an excellent set of memories, we’ll use these next year.

    Many thanks…

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