Saturday, May 12, 2018
Every Store Has a Story
You will have noticed from this blog that I often photograph shopfronts. I've always found them really intriguing, whether the shops are open or closed, vacant or occupied. It's not just a London thing. I used to shoot them in the states, too.
I like the graphics on the signs, and the way shops embody the characteristics of the surrounding neighborhoods. They don't have to be fancy -- in fact it's better if they're not. The shops I like most don't try to be fashionable showpieces.
Having said that, I often think about some of the shops and businesses I used to patronize as a kid. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to photograph them.
There was the local market in Land O' Lakes, my hometown, run by an older married couple named Wells. (An independent small-town grocery is a rarity, if not an impossibility, in the United States these days.) I remember what the store looked like, with its old-fashioned checkout counter, and I remember when it closed -- around the time we got our first large local supermarket in the mid-'70s.
I wish I'd photographed other hometown businesses too, like Chuck's barber shop, or the adjacent beauty salon, or the drug store where we bought my grandmother a butterfly pin for her birthday.
There was the Sunny Market down the street from my grandmother's house in Hyattsville, Md. We called it simply the "corner store." When we visited Grandmother (and she was always Grandmother to us, never Grandma or Granny or Meemaw), my brother and I used to go there with our pocket change and stock up on sugary sodas and candy bars. I remember buying a head of lettuce there once and Grandmother wasn't thrilled with the quality -- in fact, she made me take it back. But for candy, that place rocked.
Also in my hometown in Florida was a great old place called the Florida Bar. It was relatively nondescript and definitely just a local roadhouse watering hole. It was eventually torn down -- all except, weirdly, the front door and its surrounding door frame, which stood by itself for a few more years. It's entirely gone now, but I wish I had a picture.
Likewise the Roundtable Bar, which burned down sometime in the late '70s or early '80s.
And finally, when I lived in Winter Haven, Fla., in the late '80s, there was a motel on U.S. 17 just north of town. I don't remember the name -- but it had a groovy neon sign with a palm tree. I always meant to shoot that sign. And one day, while driving past, I saw that the sign had disappeared, replaced with something modern and plastic and far less interesting.
Nowadays, when I see something I want to shoot, I do it ASAP. Time waits for no man!
(Top photo: A shop on Cricklewood Broadway.)