These are a few of a shopkeeper’s favourite things….


It’s the little, spontaneous, unsolicited things that get shopkeepers through a day. Actually, that probably applies to most people. But as a good corner shop is a kind of microcosm, one would like to think that all the little good things that happen, and the happiness that these things generate, spread out into the macrocosm, borne on the shoes, clothes and hair of its visitors. Little ripples of niceness. Like the coins in the photo. Change is pretty dirty stuff, let’s face it – but then occasionally a bag of shiny new ones finds its way into the till and wink at the shopkeeper every time the till is opened.
It may be Pollyanna-ish, but here’s a whimsical, trivial list of things that make us smile:

  • children that deign to play peek-a-boo with the shopkeeper. Either through the shop window or in the shop itself;
  • actually getting to use a rubber stamp for something;
  • deliveries that arrive with paper-clipped-rather-than-stapled invoices;
  • sitting in the shop with the shutters down but with the door open listening to passers-by*
  • 50 pence pieces. We are actually guilty of hoarding them. They are just such a fun shape;
  • watching little old ladies pack and re-pack their shopping trollies, everything wrapped in 10 carrier bags;
  • traffic wardens that come into the shop to ask if ‘that car out there’ belongs to any of our customers before they stick a ticket on it
  • the nice street sweeper that bothers to clean along the sides of the shop without being asked;
  • our birds. Well, we don’t actually own any, but our street hosts a murmuration of starlings, a small family of blue tits, a flock of seagulls, two vicious crows and any number of stupid pigeons. All of whom seem to like Persian pastries;
  • playing air guitar in the shop in the dark just after we close of an evening;
  • delivery drivers who whistle and seem happy in their work;
  • deliveries of new books, especially if they are wrapped in brown paper;
  • the feeling of satisfaction just after we have finished writing all our blackboards.
  • springing up from behind the counter and accidentally making customers jump.

There, now that’s a lot better than a list of pet hates, no?

*”What do they sell in there then?”
“Dunno – it’s a funny looking shop. Darrell, you know, that’s Sheena’s boyfriend, well he goes in there to buy stuff for his shishe. Think it’s all stuff from Iran.”
“Iran? That’s where they have all that trouble, no? But the woman that’s normally behind the counter doesn’t look very foreign.”
“Well, she probably just works there. Saw a nice vase in the window the other day, I did. Tell you what, let’s pop in on the way back through…”

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