Our #SOSMorecambe - Support Our Shops campaign encourages people to shop local. So with Christmas looming, GREG LAMBERT himself went shopping in Morecambe town centre to discover the hidden gems right on our doorstep. Here is part two of his expedition...
AFTER leaving the Plaza Arcade, it was swiftly on to Nelson Street and Flowers for all Occasions, run by Sue Robinson for the past 25 years.
Sue’s shop front is certainly looking Christmassy, decked out with mini Christmas trees, ribboned door wreaths and festive flowerpots.
“I think small shops will make a comeback,” says Sue, as we chat about the SOS campaign.
“In a small town, you can get everything you need within yards.”
Enthusiastic customer Elizabeth Steel nods in agreement. “Susan sells some lovely stuff. My friend lives in Manchester and she gets all her flowers from here.”
Sue and Elizabeth are typical of the salt-of-the-earth characters you’ll find in Morecambe town centre shops.
So is Barbara Boyd of The Little Shop of Hobbies.
Chatty Barbara moved back from Spain 16 years ago to open her craft and hobby shop, first on Queen Street and since 1999 on Pedder Street.
She runs it with husband Maurice, daughter Vicky and pet doggie ‘Little Ian’, an impossibly cute Maltese-Sheltie cross who scurries around the shop floor.
“Customers come in just to see ‘Little Ian’ and bring him presents,” says Barbara proudly.
“The shop has become well-known. We get regular visitors, we’ve got a cult following.
“We even give them nicknames. There’s ‘The Ladies from Leeds’ and ‘Nina from Norway’.”
Nina from Norway might enjoy a Knit and Knatter, the name of Barbara’s fornightly drop-in sessions in her back kitchen, where customers can sit down with their knitting over a chat and a cuppa.
And if anyone in your family would like an Airfix, scarf making kit or sewing box for Christmas, then The Little Shop of Hobbies is the place to go.
Our final stops are opposite The Visitor office, at Meehan’s greengrocers and Daniel’s butchers on Victoria Street.
Every small town used to be full of butchers and greengrocers, until the rise of the supermarket chain killed them one-by-one.
It’s a shame, because there’s still nothing quite like buying your fruit, veg and meat the old-fashioned way.
Prices are competitive too.
At Meehan’s I purchased a bag of stewing vegetables, a bunch of ripe green bananas and four giant Victoria jacket potatoes for £2.60.
Next door, butcher Simon Turner has blackboards outside advertising meat packs for the Christmas consumer.
He’ll sell you six eggs, a large pork pie, 1lb steak, 1lb back bacon, 1lb pork sausages, 3lb gammon, a 5lb duck, a 3lb beef joint and an 8lb turkey for £70 all-in.
Not feeling quite so hungry, I instead buy a big pack of braising steak, four fresh minced beefburgers and jars of Mrs Darlington’s cranberry sauce and pickled onions. £11.98 isn’t a bad price, given the quality of produce and the direct over-the-counter service.
Laden with goodies, my expedition is at an end.
Normally after a supermarket trip, I feel harrassed or sometimes, feel absolutely nothing. Not today.
After shopping in some of my home town’s friendly and fascinating shops, I had a warm glow, and was full of the Christmas spirit.
It seems that shopping local is not only good for Morecambe’s economy.
It’s also good for the soul.