The shop that time forgot

“There’s a shop in a small village in rural Scotland which still sells boxes of goods marked with pre-decimal prices which may well have been placed there 80 years ago.

“This treasure trove of a hardware store sells new products too. But its shelves, exterior haven’t changed for years; its contents forgotten, dust-covered and unusual, branded with the names of companies long since out of business.

“Photographer Chris Frears has immortalised this shop further on film. Here he explains a bit about the pictures and why this time capsule of an outlet is so compelling:

“The shop is actually in our village near the Nith Valley, Dumfriesshire. When I arrived with my camera and explained what I wanted to do, it was quite funny really because Hugh, the older guy in the picture, disappeared downstairs to brush his comb-over and put his blue jacket on.

“It’s the sort of place you go when you want something that’s made in Britain which will last. These days so many people go to Homebase and B&Q. But if you go to this shop and Hugh turns around and tells you “It canna be got,” which has become a local name for the place, then you really know it can’t be. I wanted an old fashioned tin opener recently, so that’s where I went.

“I think Hugh knows to a certain extent that, as much as they are stuck in the past, they have something special there. To him it’s nothing. He’s a bit eccentric. His daughter Elizabeth, also in the pictures, bought herself a laptop after Christmas. But she keeps it at home. They don’t have computers in the shop.

“David has worked there for 25 years. I went in and took the pictures of Hugh and Elizabeth, and David, who’d previously said he wanted no part in it, said to me afterwards, said “Oh go on, just take one of me then.” And that’s when I photographed him with the gas lamp. He had trouble staying still and kept laughing.

“Elizabeth is the third generation of the family to work in the shop. It’s been in their possession since 1929. The clock in the pictures does not work, which is, I think, quite typical of the shop. To be honest, I think the clock is as old as the shop.

“I’m thinking of doing a series of other shops that time has forgotten. It’s a cliché but we’re supposed to be a nation of shopkeepers. But we’re not. Instead we’re a nation of high street chains.”

- The Independent


All images (c) Chris Frear

Thank you to Richard Sullivan

12 comments to The shop that time forgot

  • Webby

    This is a local shop, for local people. There’s nothing for you here.

  • El Swedgio

    Fork ‘andles!

  • Graham

    This is beautiful. I’d love to see more like this.

  • Mike

    I want to touch the precious things of the shop.

  • Ray Martin

    “There’s a shop in a small village in rural Scotland which still sells boxes of goods marked with pre-decimal prices which may well have been placed there 80 years ago.”
    I think it would be more accurate to say that they don’t sell them, or they wouldn’t still be there :D

  • Dan Dare

    I know a fantastic model shop that is similarly stuck in the past. The fixtures and fittings, decor and much of the stock are all stuck in the 70′s
    contact me if you want their details.

  • Sara

    Loved this. Can’t wait for more.

  • JohnnyFox

    Is this the shop that sold Susan Boyle ?

  • K. Kelly

    We have a shop in the American Midwest, Hedlund’s Hardware, in Indianapolis, Indiana, that is a lot like “It Canna Be Got.” However, it is not in a small town — it sits at a busy intersection, in a congested part of a large city — and has since the 1930′s. Hedlund’s only has on-site parking for a few cars, and carries some hardware parts that look almost as old as David’s. Hedlund’s also has serious competition from several large/medium-size chain hardware stores nearby — Lowes and Sullivan’s. Hedlund’s survives because it provides quality personal service — the folks at Hedlund’s know how to grind a house key that fits your door locks, and so forth. I suspect that is also the secret behind “It Canna Be Got”‘s longevity.

  • muzisa

    What does “It Canna Be Got” mean?

  • Ray Martin

    Muzisa – canna is a truncated form of cannae ( can nae). It literally means “it can not be got’, or ‘you can’t get it’

  • Chris

    have you ever seen “the old curiosity shop” in holborn/clerkenwell in London?????

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