Among the charity shops, pound emporiums and transitory pop-up stores on our high streets are those anchor shops and businesses that have been there as long as anyone can remember.
These are the establishments that help define the place and give it stability.
Long Sutton has a surprising number of well established businesses that have survived for a generation or more and have helped establish, through their loyal following, the retail success of this small market town.
In the last few weeks, there has been both good and bad news locally.
Arguably the town’s oldest established business, Peatlings Wine Merchants on Little London, closed its doors for the last time after well over 100 years of trading.
Established in the last decade of the 19th century by wine merchant Sidney Duvall, the business has changed hands several times since his unexplained death by a gunshot wound to the head in his back garden in 1910.
Esentially though, this importer, distributor and retailer of wines, spirits and ales has been a mainstay of the local trading scene for four generations.
The mantle of the town’s ‘oldest established retailer’ now passes to Pledgers on Market Place, which has just celebrated its 70th anniversary.
Pledgers – started in 1945 by ‘Dick’ Pledger as a bicycle and radio shop – was taken over by long-standing employee Maurice Smith in 1967 and has since been run by the family as a traditional toy shop for all.
When you have outgrown their construction bricks, dolls houses and train sets, you can move on to their electronics and household appliances, indulging your whims in a variety of electrical gadgetry.
Like Palmers Ale House and Kitchen, which I mentioned in this column last month, Pledgers’ shop was also once thatched, evidenced by remnants of the old roof covering in the loft.
It has also got a secret room in the roof, only discovered when the shop was refurbished some years ago, and a ghost.
Like the Dickens novel, this apparition only reveals itself on Christmas Eve, when a chill settles over the shop around closing time and toys on the shelves have been known to move around of their own accord.
Whether there is a connection with the secret room no-one knows.
Maybe it is just too much ‘Christmas spirit’ consumed at lunchtime.