It may be a seven-day-a-week job, but the very last “corner” shop in Keswick’s Windebrowe Avenue is still going strong after 64 years run by the Marrs family.
The current owner is 70-year-old David Marrs, whose parents, Dennis and Dolly, took over the grocers and convenience store in the heart of the housing estate in February 1956 from Tommy Taylor, who went on to run the “corner” shop on Latrigg Close nearby.
At the time there were other small grocery shops in Keswick, including two in Helvellyn Street, and another in Ratcliffe Place which was run by Dennis’ brother George Marrs, which served the town’s “back streets”.
With no large supermarkets in Keswick at the time, people living in these residential areas of the town would often do a weekly shop at their local grocery store.
David said: “Mum and dad were really busy at the time and we had staff to help out. I can remember coming home from school at the age of ten and helping stock up fruit and veg.
“Dad would work a 100-hour week and loved it, although mum found working seven-days-a-week and long hours very tying.”
When David left school he began working full time at the family shop and he moved into a house on Windebrowe Avenue almost opposite the store after tying the knot with Kath.
After the shock deaths of his mum in 1984, aged 64, then his dad just a year later, David took over the shop and moved into the house with his wife and children, Sam and Rob.
David admits that things have changed over the years with different shopping habits. Keswick now has supermarkets and large convenience stores, and people travel out of town for groceries.
But, he says, there’s still a place for his shop, with locals regularly dropping in for fresh items, such as bread, cakes and bacon and sausage. And, he is also on hand for the many older people who live on the avenue or nearby streets.
David said: “As customers get older they often can’t face the walk up the road to the shop, so they will phone in an order and I don’t mind delivering. I also drop off papers for them when I go for my own at the local garage on a morning.”
Windebrowe store is open daily, although David does allow himself an afternoon off on a Wednesday and Sunday.
He opens at 8am weekdays and 8.30am on the weekend, and most evenings until 6pm. Despite the long hours he rarely complains and likes nothing better than catching up on the local gossip with his customers, many of whom are also good friends.
David said: “I have had a good life here and never think when I get up that I don’t want to go into work. Sam and Rob were brought up here with the business as a backdrop to their life. Without doubt, the best thing about my job is the people.
“Perhaps the worst is not having a lot of free time, as I have missed many weddings over the years. I’m also a huge music fan and would have loved to have gone to Glastonbury Festival.
“Instead, when I was younger, I would put up a tent in back garden, fill the fridge with beers and watch the coverage on the TV after I had finished work.”
Although David is into his 70th year, he has no plans of giving up.
“I wouldn’t know what to do with my time. As long as I am fit and able to do the work, I will carry on,” he added.