The village shop or convenience store is a quintessential part of British rural living. Traditionally they offer the local people a range of goods including newspapers, chocolates and sweets, tobacco, greeting cards, stationery, toiletries and household products, a range of grocery products, coal and firewood and sometimes as in this picture may even double up as a petrol (gas) station.
Although limited and perhaps more expensive compared to the supermarkets these types of store are a convenient way for local people to shop. They are often at the hub of village life and are usually a meeting place for people to chat, gossip and catch up on local news.
Along with the village pub these types of store have come under increasing threat in recent years. A chronic shortage of affordable housing in villages and the surrounding areas has led to locals moving away. Rich commuters and second-home owners out-price locals who are the bedrock of local trade. The Rural Housing Association have suggested that about 1,200 rural shops had closed over the past two years .
One spokesman has said: "Rural house prices tend to be well above the national average, while rural incomes are well below the national average – and this affordability gap has widened rather than narrowed over the last five years”.
The National Housing Federation, which represents England’s housing associations, estimates about 100,000 new affordable homes need to be built in England alone to meet demand in rural areas over the next 10 years.
There are however, numerous stories of village people pulling together as a community to keep their pubs and shops open. People are realizing that the village store is a part of British heritage that once gone will be very difficult to revive.
The picture shows Minafon Stores in the very quaint Betws yn Rhos village situated in the rural land near Colwyn Bay, North Wales. It also has an excellent pub situated just yards from the store called The Wheatsheaf.