At the very head of the Hamble River, in the beautiful Meon valley, lies the pretty, small Saxon town of Bishop’s Waltham. It is large enough to be called a town, and yet its residents still refer to it as “the village”. It’s a few days to go before Easter and we are in one of the most lovely sweet shops we have ever visited. It is the shop of Sophie Green, a mother and business woman who wanted to create a business she could manage partly from home. She opened in mid-November 2010 and has not stopped since. Of course, the Christmas trade was brisk and buzzing, and as she opened the doors to her brand new business, word spread like wild fire. “We had all the school children in at once, there were queues going round the corner. It was amazing!”
The Sweet Corner Shop does not have a website yet, but it is part of the business plan to get one. Sophie does the ordering from home, all 220 varieties of sweets. They are stored in glass jars on the shelves, from the top of the ceiling to the floor. The entire shop is one big confectionery bazaar.
Her very favourite is the chocolate brazils, and Sophie says she puts them on the top shelf, out of harm’s way. She also sells locally sourced New Forest dairy ice cream.
Outside the shop, on every other shop window there are signs “Say No to Sainsbury’s”. The townsfolk are all chattering and whispering. Today there is a town council meeting to decide whether the plans for the new superstore will be approved. In the window of the bakery shop there is a poster of photographs of Shepton Mallet, the Somerset town whose high street was destroyed by Tesco. “We do not want this to happen to us”, is the message, whilst inside loyal customers are buying up every last loaf. It seems unbelievable that such a pretty town, with its excellent butcher shop, fishmonger, bakery, delicatessen and small supermarket should have to face a similar threat.
In Barrington’s Delicatessen we sit chatting with the owners while having tea and eating perfect chocolate brownies. Everybody is talking about the supermarket, fearing for their livelihoods.
The confectionery shelves of all supermarkets are bland, boring and very predictable. What a joy it is to shop in a small, family owned sweet shop. The people of Bishop’s Waltham need to keep that queue going round the corner, and preserve such a delightful establishment.
Sweet Corner shop
1 High Street
Hampshire SO32 1 AB
Telephone: 01489 892506