Back in Time for the Corner Shop - 29 January 2021 - 29/1/2021 - Friday - BBC Two - TV Everyday

Back in Time for the Corner Shop – 29 January 2021 – 29/1/2021 – Friday – BBC Two

21st Century
Back in Time for the Corner ShopSeries 1 Episode 6 of 6

For the final episode in the series, the family reflect on their 100 years in the shop and investigate how the shopkeepers of today are using the lessons from the past and technology of the future to keep the tills ringing into the 21st century.

The family’s first stop is a modern convenience store that is trialling a new app which could completely transform the role of the local shopkeeper. When the Ardern’s first opened their corner shop, life behind the counter was labour intensive. With no self-service and a shop full of loose goods, shopkeepers had to do almost everything for the customer. The arrival of self service in the 1960s changed all that. From then on, shopkeepers did less and less and the customer more and more. By the time the family closed up shop in 1997, all the shopkeeper had to do was stand behind a counter and take the money. Dave and Sam find out how a new ‘pay-in-aisle’ app means shopkeepers don’t even have to man the till. As a 21-year-old, Sam loves the speed, convenience and, frankly, not having to chat. Dave is less sure and worries that losing the interaction between customer and shopkeeper is a step too far for smaller shops. Much cheaper to install than a self-service check-out, it could be the future for all our local shops.

Next stop is Panda Store in Sheffield, opened to cater for one of the city’s newest and fastest growing communities – Chinese students. During their 100 years in the shop, the Arderns discovered how corner shops constantly adapted to reflect – and profit from – the changing neighbourhood, from the 1890s, when the customers were mainly local women looking for everyday necessities, to the 1950s, when an influx of new shift workers from the Commonwealth brought early starts, late nights and plenty of white rum. By the 90s, Britain was more diverse than ever and corner shops were much faster than the supermarkets at catering for potential new customers. Nowadays, the most popular model for local shops is to try and cater for absolutely everyone, but Panda Stores is finding success by doing the opposite and going niche. Jo and Sam visit to check out what the shop stocks to attract the 6,000 Chinese students who call Sheffield home and, of course, to try out some of the shop’s best-selling items.

Getting customers through the door has always been a vital part of shop keeping and during their time running the shop, the Arderns came up with all kinds of novel and exciting ways to entice people in – from a fruit machine to cash in on Sheffield’s 1920s gambling epidemic and making the most of a national addiction to hula hooping in the 50s to installing a snooker table for a snooker-mad city in the 70s and installing lottery machines in 1994, just in time for Britain’s first ever national lottery draw. Sara invites the whole family to try out what could be the next big thing – a chocolate-head-making machine. Using 3D technology, it makes an exact replica of Dave’s head – but will anyone dare take a bite? It might seem high tech now but this could be perfect bit of kit for shopkeepers of the future to keep attracting customers through the door.

With the supermarkets next door, local shops are having to find new ways to compete. The family discover the merits of offering plastic-free shopping and how some shops survive by being run by the community itself. But one local shop is fighting the supermarkets in a completely different way – by going back to the past. W Martyn in north London still has the original polished wood shelves and counter and offers loose goods and full customer service. Dave and Sam visit to discover how this approach has helped them stay open for 122 years.

While many local shops are thriving, the traditional corner shop has all but disappeared. Sara and Polly meet the Arderns for one last time in an old corner shop that has found a new lease of life as a café. As a welcoming place for a friendly chat, it also offers free classes for kids and displays local art. All over the country, corner shops have been repurposed, their location making them perfect spots for cafes, coffees shops and microbreweries! The spirit of the corner shop still lives on in the building at the heart of its community.

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About Back in Time for the Corner Shop

This show is broadcast on BBC Two, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Latest Episodes of Back in Time for the Corner Shop

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