Express & Star comment: How corner shop bucks the trend

There are not many shops that can say they have been a fixture in the community for six decades.

Vernon Hedgecox when he first started the shop in 1960
Vernon Hedgecox when he first started the shop in 1960

Yet that is the proud claim of The Wine Shop in Whitmore Reans, which first opened its doors in 1959 and has been serving customers ever since.

Originally a grocery store, owner Vernon Hedgecox made a name for himself in the community and was well loved by residents.

Twins Vicky and Emma Passmore have kept the store going since Mr Hedgecox died four years ago, having both started helping out at the shop aged 14, filling sweet jars and tidying up.

It is great to see that the shop is still going strong, buoyed by its unusual selection of goodies that make it something of an oddity as far as corner shops are concerned.

Its success highlights the importance of independent traders, particularly at a time when many of them are struggling to get by.

Our high streets have changed markedly in recent years, and there are plenty of people who have already written off the chances of the traditional forms of retail ever making a comeback.

Stores such as The Wine Shop give us all hope that such views are premature.

So many big stores have disappeared over the last three decades.

The likes of Woolworths, BHS, Our Price, C&A, Rumbelows, Dixons and MFI all closed their doors for good in the face of dwindling sales and an inability to keep up with online competition.

There is undoubtedly still a place for major stores on our high streets, and the continued success of John Lewis is proof that with the right business model, it is possible to remain profitable.

But it is likely that in years to come, independent stores will play an even bigger role in our towns and cities.

By offering the public products and services that differ from the norm, they are often able to thrive, even in difficult economic climates.

The Wine Shop, and stores like it, can help to create a new chapter for our flagging high streets.

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