University of Oxford
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32561: Local shopping - VE day

online resource
posted on 2023-12-08, 22:12 authored by Lockdown2020 and Beyond Project

Early in lockdown like communities many across the country we experienced shortages of food and basic goods. Never enough that we were hungry, but quite a shock to a population that has for many years has had access to everything it wants and does not always need. Once larger numbers of people were working from home our local shop started to adapt and began to sell products in large quantities such as sourdough bread, dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables. The change to customer shopping habits meant that customers who would normally have travelled to a supermarket felt safer to shop locally and were happy to support their local shop. In return the shopkeepers did their best to manage their stock and worked hard to make sure the village didn't run out of pasta and toilet roll and to make sure the elderly were looked after during a time when there was great uncertainty and anxiety. Fresh fruit and vegetables were supplied by the market traders from the local town who collected their goods from Covent Garden at 4am and delivered to the village by 7am for what became a weekly pop-up fruit and veg market. The photograph here is of the village shop decked out for VE day with the pop up market adding colour alongside the Union flags, the French tricolour and the American stars and stripes which all flew in memory of the occasion. The shop staff dressed as land girls and members of the Wantage silver band who are residents of the village played a socially distant selection of melodies from the 1940's. Whilst celebrations were muted the village community held tea parties in their front gardens and the village came to a halt at their gates and front doors as a bugler played the last post at the village war memorial. A very moving tribute during a time of restriction to a time where millions were emerging from war and destruction.


New normal

Almost a year on from this photograph we have experienced the lifting and imposing of restrictions multiple times. The village shop continues to adapt and customers accept without question that they must wear a mask and only two are allowed in the shop at any one time. The shop has adapted once again and knocked out a window at the front in order to serve coffee and cake through a hatch. This is the new normal, customers no longer expect table service or crockery and continue to take their daily walk with a coffee reward at the end of it. The village green and benches are busy with families resting and dog walkers meeting a friend, cars are fewer and the village has become something of an attraction in the local area�.mostly because of the shop!

About the picture(s)

Picture 1 - Village shop on VE day with pop up fruit and vegetable stall Picture 2 - Coffee hatch, adaptations to the shop to keep the village in its coffee habit




Childrey, Oxfordshire


Jane Bardell

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