Good old-fashioned shopkeeping embodies a sense of community, personalised service, and a connection to the past that stands in stark contrast to the digital age’s click-and buy frenzy.
It conjures images of a corner shop where the shopkeeper knows customers by name, recommends products based on individual preferences, and engages in genuine conversations that extend beyond mere transactions. In the era before big-box retailers and online shopping, shopkeepers played a pivotal role in curating their inventory, carefully selecting items that catered to the unique needs and tastes of their local clientele.
This bespoke approach fostered a strong bond between the shopkeeper and the community, as trust and loyalty formed the backbone of these relationships. Everyone has fond memories of Albert Arkwright (Ronnie Barker) setting up the pavement display in his corner shop each morning on the BBC TV programme “Open All Hours”. Those were the days; there days when retailers washed the pavements in front of their shops each morning before setting up for the day’s trading.
The tactile experience of walking into a shop, feeling the textures of fabrics, smelling the aromas of fresh produce, and hearing the gentle chime of a bell as you entered, cannot be replicated by virtual shopping carts and search algorithms. Shopkeeping was an art, an intricate dance of displaying goods in an inviting manner, providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and offering a level of customer service that went beyond the exchange of money for goods.
Though modern retail has evolved, there’s a yearning for the days of good old-fashioned shopkeeping. The values of authenticity, personalised attention, and a deep connection to the community remain as relevant as ever. As we look at history we know that Bath’s independent retailers helped put Bath on the map. Going forward, it’s important that Bath independents continue to flourish and set Bath apart from other cities competing for visitors.