It was the first port of call when unexpected visitors came and there wasn’t a piece of cake in the house. I was often sent there with a few shillings from my mother’s purse when she decided we needed a sliced pan or a few slices of ham or some fresh cream for the pudding. It was also the place I would stop on my way home from school for candy or chocolate, or an orange chip or chocolate ice cream in the heat of early summer.
Amerons. That was the name of the store down our street because it was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Cameron and as such was the shopping mecca for all essential groceries in the neighborhood where I grew up.
And yet it was so much more than that, like local businesses in every community across the length and breadth of the country.
Curiously, in the midst of the tragedy in Creeslough last weekend, Cameron’s shop came to mind for the first time in many years.
Why? Because it was so evident the important role Lafferty’s shop played in the life of the close-knit Creeslough community. It too was so much more than just a business.
In a world where the rise of megastores seems unstoppable, where the old-fashioned corner shop is largely a thing of the past and the move to online shopping is a done thing, it’s a privilege to still have a friendly, local store have on your doorstep. Just popping in to buy some sundries and chat.
Years before anyone heard of a Boston bar called Cheers, the local shop was where everyone—both behind and in front of the counter—knew your name.
The little shop across from my grandparents’ house was the archetype of a corner shop – it was even on a corner. I can still well imagine Mrs. Dinnin, the owner who held court there. She was of medium height and slim with dark long hair that curled at the ends just above her shoulders and had the look of an old-fashioned Hollywood star.
She liked nothing better than a good ol’ talk, even with me as a little kid. How did I get on with my Irish dancing classes, how was my sister doing and what about my little dog? Ms. Dinnin, I can still remember a good half century later, loved dogs more than anything.
If these memories have an element of sepia nostalgia, then yes, I hold my hands up. But the gist of the memories stands, because stores like Dinnin’s and Cameron’s were cornerstones of communities. Just like Lafferty’s in Creeslough.
It’s about trust and local knowledge and caring for those who share the surrounding roads with you. And that works both ways – from the store owner to the customer and back again. In a society where personal service and courtesy are on the brink, the Laffertys of this world are more important than ever, because what could be more uplifting in everyday life than going to a place where everyone, absolutely everyone, knows your name ?
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/in-these-days-of-megastores-local-neighbourhood-shop-is-a-cornerstone-of-the-community-42062933.html In these days of megastores, the local convenience store is a cornerstone of the community