Where I grew up in Olskrogen we had many small shops that had their own areas of expertise.
There was the dairy shop, butcher, cheese shop, shoe shop, sweet shop, the chemist who had all the makeup and various body care paraphernalia and other household chemicals, pharmacy which was only for medicines, Women’s clothing store, Men’s clothing store, children’s clothing store, art business, Ironmonger, and so on.
The large vegetable purchases we made in the domestic market or in the market hall in the centre.
Everything being close, everyone knew everyone. If a child came and bought candy on the “wrong” day, it would be immediately reported to the parents who then cross-examined where the coins had come from to make the purchase.
We often got a few pennies from the local so-called “drunk old men”, which was strictly forbidden to take. So we made up scenarios on how we got the money like; I did an errand for someone or, I found the money on the street.
There was a sense of security with all these small shops, so you felt that you could trust one another.
Here in North Cyprus it is still the case. It has its grocery stores and other specialty stores where you will always be warmly welcomed. It feels much like it did when I was little. Taking time to talk for a while, hear how it is with family and if you have forgotten your wallet they will just say oh, don’t worry, you can pay tomorrow.
Even the major food stores operate similarly, there is always a joyous reception and if you are there often, you end up having a little chat with the personnel at the checkout. There are none so stressed out that they take offense, on the contrary, they gladly participate in conversation.
On Wednesdays we go to the big market in Girne to purchase our vegetables, spices and other goodies. One can also get hold of clothes and shoes. Even in the market, we have “our” dealer we know and happily chat away with for a while.
It is precisely this sense of personal service that is so wonderful here. You feel welcome and at home very quickly.
Below, I have provided a picture of my milk shop from Olskrogen in the 60s.