This morning we made our way to Titchfield to take a few bits of costume over ready for the forthcoming production of Can't Pay Won't Pay. On the way home we passed through the village of Wickham. I noticed how busy it was and was tempted to stop off at the Co-op to get the papers and maybe buy some bread and hot-cross-buns, seeing as it was Good Friday. The teashop on the corner was packed with many people sitting outside in the Spring sunshine, devouring cakes and drinking coffee. Being a good Southwickian I decided to wait until we got back home and shop in our own little village store instead. I even suggested to the lovely husband that we could have our coffee in the village tea rooms at the same time.
Imagine my disappointment when I walked to the shop - only a few doors away from our own - at about 11.15, to find that the shop and tea-room had closed at 10.00am. I was completely gob-smacked to tell the truth as it was a lovely morning and the perfect opportunity for the new tea rooms to make a killing with all the people about in the Easter sun. I jumped in my car and drove over the hill to Portchester, did a quick shop in the Co-op there, picked up a lot more than I'd gone in for and spent £36.00. On the journey back I couldn't help thinking about the many people who may have dropped into the shop in Southwick that day potentially spending similar amounts. Most of what I'd bought I could have got in the shop in the village: Orange squash, ginger beer, crusty bread, a sliced loaf, tinned fruit, popadoms, potatoes, salad, tomatoes, trifles, cream eggs, olives, clementines, the local paper and a daily paper, jaffa cakes, pasta sauce, curry sauce, pizzas. I know however, that the many times that I've been in the shop to get odds and ends that I'd run out of, have been disappointing and the last time I asked them to get more of a range of soft drinks in and perhaps to reinstate the ice-cream fridge, I was greeted with less than helpful remarks.
I know I'm not alone in wanting the village shop to stock a bigger range of items, and to be open at reasonable times, especially now that the tea rooms are open. I just don't see how it can work if you have a tea room which is not open during the times when people want to have a cup of tea. We of Southwick really want this to work - the shop more than the tea rooms, although that should be the icing on the cake and a good way to attract people into the shop. It's important for the community to have a store that is open and has a reasonable range of items in stock.