Wednesday 20 November 2013

Les Graineteries RIP

One of the features of Le Grand Pressigny is the Graineterie in the Grande Rue, where you could buy anything in the "growing it / killing it" line from a hosta to a hen (point of lay) to a hunting knife. We've blogged about it previously here. We have bought many a plant there, and it was possible to buy young lettuces or cabbages by the half dozen, a most convenient quantity for the two of us when an individual cabbage weighs in at over a kilo.

Savoy cabbage (Chou Milan) from a Graineterie seedling
The store was run by a man-and-wife couple and at times their children, and she was their Interflora florist, Tim earned the gratitude, and hence recognition, of the proprietor by rescuing a bidon (jerry can) that fell off the back of his truck and returning it to him.

Then not long ago a sign went up indicating that the shop was closed for refurbishment.

Alas, now the graineterie windows are whitewashed, with a sign announcing "fermeture définitive" (closed for good and all). According to the rumour mill, there has been a family bust-up, someone has done something unforgiveable which they now regret bitterly. Everyone hopes it may reopen under new management, but meanwhile it's yet another empty shop.
Fermeture définitive
I can find no pictures showing the graineterie in better days, though thanks to Susan I did locate two postcards of Grande Rue, one showing a beast market in the Market Place in about 1906, and another from about 1950 judging by the clothes and the car. Both show goods outside the graineterie, in the older probably hunting clothing and chicken coops. The double doors in the archway post-date both postcards - they show an archway leading to a loading yard. Does anyone else have any pictures? I'd love to see them!

The sad fact is that the big garden centre chains, such as Jardiland in France and Notcutts in the UK, are killing off their rivals with a larger range of products (tho less quirky) and longer opening hours. These stores are in both countries at the forefront of the Sunday Opening movement, now almost the norm in the UK and increasing in pressure in France.

One of the highlights of my journey to and from Primary School four times a day was passing The Corn & Seed Stores, at the Yew Tree, Yardley, Birmingham. The array of brightly coloured flowers almost always on display played no small part in my love of gardening. That store is mentioned by name in Kelly's Directory of 1950 and must go back to days when "this was all fields" i.e. before the 1930s when the estates of semi-detached houses were built. No sign of cornfields nowadays for miles in any direction.
The former Corn & Seed Stores

It became the Pets & Garden Centre while my Dad was still living in Yardley and was still flourishing in July 2012 according to Google Earth. I idly googled it and found that it too had gone under, sold by auction at Aston Villa Football Ground with vacant possession on 23 October 2012. It feels like I've lost another old friend.


Jean said...

That is such a huge tragedy.
The graineterie occupies a prime position in Grande Rue and to have all closed up like that is so sad and not good for the village.
I'm sure I have some photos of it in full swing so I will see if I can find them.
The question is, where will Nick go now for his fishing licence and his maggots?
It's a pity that a family bust up can bring about the demise of a principal part of village life. It plays right into the hands of the big chains.
A sad day for the village.

Pollygarter said...

Thanks Jean - you summed it up perfectly!