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The village shop in Hale:

Chris and I moved in to the village shop in Hale on the 31st December 1980 with high hopes.

The turnover of the shop in the last year of Mrs Long’s trading was £86,400. The shop was of the style of a little ‘olde worlde’ village shop where you entered and were met with ‘counter service’. You asked for the items you required, the shop assistant fetched the items, you paid and left. Only a very few customers ever browsed the shop.

On Thursday morning one of us would drive around the village to collect order books from some of our customers who rarely (or never, otherwise) visited the shop. Our early closing day was Thursday afternoon and this time was spent making up the orders for delivery on the Friday morning. This caused problems in itself in that Friday was our busiest day of the trading week and we were one person down because of the deliveries.

We made no changes to the layout of the shop for about eight months, we just observed everything (didn’t want to upset anyone), by which time we were absolutely run-ragged trying to keep up with things so we decided to go open plan and invite our customers to browse for their shopping. Things took off! Our turnover went up in leaps and bounds. Our regular customers were remarking ‘oh, didn’t know you stocked this that and the other’.

It took us three years to reach a turnover of £250,000 by which time we had made it very much open plan so that customers browsed for what their shopping. We added a delicatessen and health foodstuffs. We were working all hours. Sadly our personal relationships were not going too well and Chris decided to move out and start her new life in the Telford area. This was an amicable move and it was agreed that I would eventually sell the shop and that we would split the proceeds.

I stayed on for another 18 months or so and eventually found a buyer. Chris and I had met other partners by then and it was time to move on.

The next part of the story can be found under the page Racal 2

Work in progress…