Wednesday, December 08, 2010

It's clean, it's fresh at Sergisave!

For some reason I can't change the design of this blog. That particular element seems to have disappeared, so here we are, forever dandelion clock.

So have you been watching the highly entertaining, at times quite moving, but always fascinating Turn Back Time: The High Street?

Last night was the 1970s, so there was lots of footage of old supermarkets - Fine Fare! Tesco Home & Wear! - and it harked back to a time when they were popping up everywhere. I remember when Safeway opened in our town. It was a huge draw. It sold stuff that you could only get in America, and I used to go with an American neighbour and marvel at the stuff on the shelves. It was a treat. I loved food shopping then as i love it now.

Before that, we had a tiny one called Keymarket at the precint. It was gloomy and cheap and dark, so when light, bright, exciting Safeway opened, it was goodbye Keymarkets forever. In the competing mall was a small branch of International, which possibly became Gateway. We had a neighbour who was the manager. One day his wife knocked on our door to tell us he'd committed suicide by gassing himself in the garage. He'd been having an affair with a checkout girl and she got pregnant. He was a professional with a wife and two children. It was 1969. What are you gonna do?

There was great excitement in July 1974 when a hypermarket opened on the edge of town. A Carrefour, exotically French and unheard of, opened to great fanfare. There was a two-day jamboree, with balloons, gifts, entertainment. I'm sure it was opened by someone famous, but I can't remember who. But it was a huge deal. We used to go every Friday. It had everything under one roof. I was banned in 1982 after being falsely accused of shoplifting - actually throwing mushrooms at a friend, so hardly the crime of the century - but I went back a week later an no one was any the wiser. It's an Asda now.

My granny used to go to Fine Fare, which I always thought was a bit cheap. The other grandma to Sainbury's. It's orangey tones made me feel warm and cosy and their breakfast rashers (no idea what they were made of), were delicious beyond belief.

These days I'm a Waitrose man. If you like food, that's got to be your supermarche of choice, right?

17 comments:

Clair said...

BREAKFAST RASHERS!

Oh my, they were delish! They were, I think, like luncheon meat and probably full of fat, but lovely. I am a Sainsbury person still; I find Waitrose a bit samey - and expensive...

Mondo said...

We had a quite a handful for such a small town: Wallis, International, Co-Op, VG and a Bejams. Although Safeways built in 1970 on the site of a former cinema and rock venue blew most away. The castle in the gallery on the same page - you may recognise from the Oil City film..

Only ever seemed to see Spar on holidays though..

office pest said...

I remember them being called Breakfast Slices, as I suppose the word rasher implied they were carved off an animal rather than being injection moulded or whatever. Delicious though.

I can't find them on here though, not all is on line yet:

http://www.museumindocklands.org.uk/English/Collections/CollectionsOnline/SainsburyArchive/

Sainsbury's brown paper carrier bags were spectacularly strong, but once they went, they went; tins all over the road.

My brother, as a small boy, once 'collected' all the shelf edge price tags he could get his hands on, one Saturday morning. They were not amused.

Bright Ambassador said...

There wasn't 'mushroom' for you in Carrefour, eh? Eh? You sounded like a really 'fun guy'. Eh? Are you having that? Eh? Oh, please yourselves...

We had Fine Fare, International (later Gateway and Somerfield), Grandways (there's one for the North of Grantham-ers, also known as Jacksons. Plus they had the scary "It's a shoplifting shame" poster. I hoped to God I never had to say "Where are they taking Mummy?" like the kid on the poster). All gone now, repalced with Morrison's (ugh), Waitrose (yay! MILF City! But dear), seemingly dozens of cheapo German and Scandanavian outfits and a developing Asda.
I'd still swap tham all for going to help Mum at Grandways - sitting in the fold down seat of the trolley - and asking her what those things called Dr White's she was popping in the trolley were for. Oops.

Clair said...

I loved Grandways; they sold Tiger bread, which was a square loaf with nothing tigery about it bar the picture of a tiger on the bag.

Five-Centres said...

I don't know Grandways at all.

We had a VG, Spar, Wavy Line and a Mace, but sadly no sign of a Maid Marian.

Wil said...

I do have (or had) a love/hate relationship with Turn Back Time. It's all very well decking out shops in the right period and generally thinking about what people back then had to contend with but judging them at the end on how much they'd made? So the food shop that had the most choice and, presumably, sold modern food in old packaging rather than a 40 year old packet of Corn Flakes made more money than a guy selling LPs to people who haven't owned a turntable in 25 years? My god Gregg Wallace, I bet you didn't think that would happen!

Five-Centres said...

I know what you mean, Wil, it was a bit unfair. I'm just hoping it has indeed revived Shepton Mallet, but somehow I doubt it.

Simon said...

I grew up in Central London, by Old Street and we had none of the big supermarkets by us. The Angel in Islington was walking distance though and Hoxton Market just around the corner, so we could shop fresh. Plus on my street there was a butchers, a greengrocers and no less than three mini supermarkets, which all had their own regular customers and seemed to thrive for years. Only one of them survives now. One of my big teenage crushes was on a girl who worked in one of them.

Safeways opened up by the Barbican in 1982 and it was as you described, a major change with all sorts of foreign fruits and big deep pan pizzas. And orange juice. It was amazing, the time before it seems dark and gloomy and then there's colour. I associate ABC's Look Of Love with that time, and the combination of great pop and nostalgic memory never fails to make me smile.

Five-Centres said...

That's a good memory Simon. Growing up in central London must have been really quite different.

Ishouldbeworking said...

We had a Wavy Line, a Spar AND a Maid Marian, as well as a small co-op and several Asian grocers (back as far as the late 60s) which sold amazing-looking exotic vegetables. The Wavy Line always smelled of Spam, and was run by a man who looked reassuringly like Geoffrey Wheeler.

For rotten fruit there was Romford Market, where the blokes always kept their thumbs on the scales to swindle you, and where the National Front did a roaring trade in their 'newspapers'.

Breakfast Slices were delicious - an entire week's worth of salt in one convenient helping! They certainly don't do them in Waitrose (where I shop now, because I'm a Brighton Ponce.).

Simon said...

Welwyn Garden City had a Sainsburys (which then moved across the car park, with the old one becoming Sainsburys Freezer Centre) and The Co-Op in town along with the wonderous food hall of the Welwyn Department Store. The day they sold out to John Lewis and that closed is still a bitter memory.

Oddly, we also got a Safeway distribution centre sometime in the 80s but never a branch of the store itself before we moved away.

James said...

You'll be smiling/When you're shopping/The Walter Wilson way.

There was one in Wetherby which my Grandmother had a strange fascination for.

Lee Slator said...

In Doncaster where I'm originally from we had a Hillards, Fairway and a Sainsburys (small one in the Frenchgate Centre). There was an ASDA at the other side of town, one of the first ASDA shops which is still there now.

Hillards eventually changed into Tesco in the mid 80's I believe.

I'm a former Safeway employee (student shelf stacker), although that was from the time when the firm was separated from the American company and was run from Scotland somewhere.

Matthew Rudd said...

My grandma swore by the branch of Clifford Dunn on Prospect Street in Hull. For us it was always Jacksons, the abiding memory of which for me was my dad disappearing with about two aisles to go to find some suitable boxes from the "back" to pack it all into.

Asda now.

Lee Slator said...

It's funny you mention the foraging for boxes Matthew. I seem to remember they were a big part of our shopping trip too, something I had forgotten about until you mentioned it.

Strangely though, it isn't from the brands I mentioned above. When we moved to the Goole area we would sometimes go to Leo's (Co-Op Supermarket Brand) on the odd occasion. They would also have the boxes on the benches behind the tills.

Leo's became The Co-Operative Pioneer in the early to mid-90's I believe. It became a flashy new building which was eventually bought by Tesco

Lee Slator said...

This post got me thinking about old shopping habits in general (well my parents anyway). Here's what I came up with

From a time when only the Newsagents was open on a Sunday...

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