Imagine that you have an empty high street to fill. Just a little high street, mind – this isn’t meant to be taxing. Let’s say it comprises around a dozen properties. The question is…who would you like to see in those twelve vacant shops?
There are rules. You can only have three chain stores (but you don’t actually have to have any), and of the twelve shops at least one should be an eatery of one description or another. Time and place are irrelevant: you can let your imagination rove a bit.
Shall we start the ball rolling? Oh all right. In no particular order then…
- We definitely need an all day cafe/bar/restaurant. So keeping it indie we’ll go with No 67;
- Fave clothing store ever (now long gone, sadly): Nasty’s in Southend-on-Sea. It wasn’t at all nasty, and no, we’re not closet punk rockers. They just made really sound and unusual clothing;
- Of course we need a bookshop – this will have to be Review, as they are our friends (and the shop is also an ace bookshop);
- And because Mrs. Shopkeeper grew up before downloading was invented, a ‘record’ shop would be good. We’ll go for Fives, as we wasted many happy hours there as teenagers AND IT IS STILL GOING STRONG.
- On to bric-a-brac. For this there is no finer emporium in the world than Lathams of Potter Heigham. More than just a village shop, this place comprises most of the village. And it does the finest china shire horses in the world. Fascinating place.
- Food. We need food. Well for basics we’d have to nominate Mrs. Lants store on the village staithe in Horning. Mrs. Shopkeeper was knee high to a Muscovy duck when this place shut down, but what wonderful memories it holds. Groceries wrapped in brown paper, the best bacon, eggs, bread…all purveyed with a warm Norfolk lilt;
- And for the finer (healthier) munchables in life, we rather like Bumblebee in Camden;
- We wouldn’t have a butcher, because we don’t really need meat. But a pukka fishmonger would be nice. Let’s move F. C. Sopers from Nunhead on to our high street;
- A good chemist that doubles as a social club/general advice bureau is essential. It has to have really nice, caring staff, smell of polish and lavender, and still use sticky-on price labels. Our favourite is Howell and Chana in Shoeburyness;
- Don’t know how it would transplant from sunny Spain, but one of the best shops ever is the Jalon bodega run by Mr. Hallelujah: it is full of tacky souvenirs + pseudo antiques, and there is nothing the proprietor doesn’t know about salesmanship; it is also a bar, and we love the idea of licensed shops 🙂
- To keep Mr. Shopkeeper happy, we’d really need a Forbidden Planet – it has such a pleasantly geeky feel about it it’s hard not to love the place;
- And finally we’d like to resurrect Woolworths. Because we miss it. And it would sell everything that you couldn’t get in the other eleven shops.
Unexpectedly this kind of proves what lasting impressions good shops leave on the very young. Which means us shopkeepers need to carry on cosseting our junior customers.
Anyway, now it’s your turn. PLEASE let us know what would be on your fantasy High Street…