At first I was excited to hear that my local post office would be moving from it's cramped position in 'Martin's, to its own larger premises in Town Street, Shepton Mallet. However, I soon started to panic about what this would mean for the busy little newsagents it would leave behind.
Whilst buying my daily paper, I tentatively asked a member of staff, would Martin's be safe after the big move?
Apparently , nobody has been told, but rumours suggest that head office may decide to close down the buzzing local convenience store ! A few locals overheard the conversation, and before long there was very passionate debate going on- about just how much this shop means to people in the local community. Yes, the Co-op at the top of the High Street has been taken over by McColls group- but it serves an entirely different function – and has different customers to the bustling newsagents in Town Street.
Martins is essentially a newsagents – where you can buy not only the widest range of daily local and national newspapers, but also a huge variety of specialist magazines covering interests from cake-decorating, arts and crafts, animal care, farming, antiques and wedding dresses – to science, collectibles, cookery and guns!
A cafe owner from the bottom of town chipped in to explain that they often need change, and haven't the time to go up to the bank, so Martins often help them out. An elderly lady, with a walking frame told me how she lives near Waterloo Road, and it takes her an age to hobble up as far as Martins. She says, she can get most things she needs there; milk, sugar, biscuits, papers, and stationary. “People think it would be easy to pop up to McColls, but If Martins was to close I honestly don't know what I would do. I couldn't get up that hill.”
Martins slogan says its the UK's no.1 'neighbourhood retailer', and it's strategy is to increase its neighbourhood presence. In Shepton , this community convenience store has been at the heart of this community since 1983 and we want it to stay! If Martins closes, the only other place you can buy specialist magazines, and such a large selection of cards, stationary, gifts and toys is Tesco.
Now, I've nothing against Tesco, but I've campaigned to save our High Street since moving here over 4 years ago. I've seen little gems like 'Twice as nice' and 'Fred's close down, but then also seen the emergence of quite a little artsy 'Vintage' quarter spring up in Town Street. The resurgence of the Friday market and now our Sunday market too. Initiatives like free parking, and #SupermarketSwop encouraging foot fall into the High Street.
If Martins were to go, it would be devastating- so get your pens out and write to; McColl's Retail Group Limited ,McColl's House ,Ashwells Road , Brentwood ,Essex ,CM15 9ST
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)