‘I remember when’ can be an ageing phrase but here goes; I remember when a Saturday could be spent going through the shelves looking for something to alight the weekend in the local Independent Record Store.  Willing the discovery of something never heard before,’ I remember when’, only five years ago, browsing and buying, in what had to close because of the unstoppable march of the corporate giants, in what is now a betting shop.

‘I remember when’, on wintery trips to the harbour town of  Whitby, steaming mugs of kiosk-brewed tea were drunk on the quayside, watching the fishermen land their crates of cold catch knowing that around the corner, the hub of teenage life would ambiguously fascinate and disappoint in equal measure. This record shop had a never-changing window display year on year, wasted on impatient youth.  

The shop, its characterful owner, smoggy bar-effect cigarette smoke-filled interior and faded LP  sleeves is appreciated now, gone yet not forgotten – Captured amongst 59 other images in one of our favourite books, `Shutting Up Shop’,  photographer John Londei’s 15 year homage to the small shopkeeper.  Beginning during a watershed for the retail sector, the economic shift of the 1970’s, with a pharmacy. Revisited during the 1980’s  an evidential thumbnail update of the businesses bears witness to those businesses that became encased in a time warp, like cabinets of stuffed birds seemingly alive and dead at the same time, condom purveyors turned into a kebab shops, and corner shops to housing.

Browsing this inspiring and interesting book is reminiscent of the occupation of shoppers browsing through a shop but its buying that keeps businesses from standing still, the browsing brings in the customers. At a time of balancing out,  it would now seem being able to browse and buy amongst big names, and independents, would be the balance for towns and cities.

(Image credit: John Londei Article credit: Copyright SUF )