Minor British Institutions: The corner shop

The corner shop struggles against larger organisations and outlets. But who could not admire its spirited independence and eclectic approach?

Under the politely distanced but benevolent gaze of the be-countered proprietor, one wanders about and wonders: "Goodness me, I'd no idea they still made these!", or "Well, well, cocktail sausage sticks! Rubber bands! And a junior sand art set!"

Wherever you may be, unless it's in the often fatal county of Midsomer, that proprietor will likely be Asian, representative of the all-hours and family support that saved the corner shop after the first assaults by the Lords of the Aisles and Offers.

The fight for survival, against a remorseless enemy, is unequal, and many predict the end of the corner shop. But for now, along with the lottery tickets, bus passes, and fairy cake cases, it provides the commonplace familiarity which nurtures tolerance between the varied lots of us that make Britain.

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