Food shops before supermarkets

In the days before supermarkets, both Market Lavington and Easterton had grocer’s shops, where customers were served by the grocer or one of his assistants. At the museum, we have a wonderful old photograph of the inside of the Co-operative Store in Market Lavington, showing the counters and the shelves behind.

Sybil Perry, in her file of Memories of Market Lavington, wrote of “shelves fixed to the shop walls from floor to ceiling and filled with packets, tins and bottles of food items.” Her childhood memories would have dated from the 1920s and 30s.

She remembered especially that “a shelf in Mr Walton’s grocery shop was fitted to the length of the counter on the side of the customer, so as to hold a row of biscuit tins at an angle, which held them tipped forward. All the various kinds of biscuits were clearly marked on the tins. When the customer had decided which to buy, the grocer lifted the tin onto the counter, opened it and weighed up the quantity of loose biscuits desired by the customer.”

Sybil’s picture of the biscuit shelf

Sybil recalled that “one could also buy broken biscuits.” She “never knew whether they arrived like that or whether the grocer put them aside for separate sale when he was weighing whole biscuits. All the bags the grocer used were made of paper – no plastic bags then.”

We will feature more memories of local shops another time.

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