'End of an era' for store left virtually unchanged since 1923February 17, 2023
Closing time for ‘time-warp’ corner shop exactly 100 years after it first opened: ‘End of an era’ for store left virtually unchanged since 1923 (and complete with antiques including WW2-era posters) as owner retires
- Moore and Toop in Frome in Somerset opened 100 years ago
- Owner Ernest Clothier has revealed he has decided it is finally time to shut shop
- The original advertisements since before WW2 have been taken for auction
A corner shop that has been left virtually unchanged since opening in 1923 is now closing.
Moore and Toop in Frome, Somerset, still looks largely the same as it did back then – complete with antiques – including a WW2-era poster. In fact, the store has not been re-painted since it opened 100 years ago.
Much to the shock of locals, Ernest Clothier – who became the store’s owner in 1969 – has decided it’s finally time to shut up shop.
He has described the sale of the property as the ‘end of an era’, adding that he will ‘miss’ trading.
Ernest Clothier has run the shop for 54 years and the store has remained unchanged for a century – leaving locals gutted
Moore and Toop opened first opened in 1923 – and still looks largely the same as it did back then
The shop is also home to original Avery weighing scales – which Ernest claims are better than their modern electric counterparts
Speaking out about the sale, Ernest, 77, said: ‘Everybody’s been saying, ‘What are we going to do without you?’. Even people that don’t shop here.
‘But I’m creeping towards 80 and I want to retire. Time is time, isn’t it?’.
When it first started operating, Moore and Toop sold agricultural supplies to farmers.
The original owner – referred to as ‘Mr Moore’ by Ernest – then stepped down in the late 1960s.
So Ernest and his late wife Mary took the job on.
And as Ernest grew up on a farm, he had plenty to learn.
He also had the extra pressure of being under the watchful eye of Mr Moore for the first six weeks.
The original owner also gave Ernest two options: perform well and the original ‘Moore and Toop’ shop-front sign could stay up, if not, it had to come down.
An old image of Ernest and Mary in the shop. The 77-year-old owner has described the sale of the property in Frome, Somerset as the ‘end of an era’
An old image of Ernest in the shop. He has decided now is the time to retire and shut up shop as he ‘creeps towards 80’
Thankfully, Ernest passed the test and the sign remained firmly in place for another 54 years.
Throughout much of Ernest’s tenancy, the original advertising boards from the brands of the past remained on the walls – including historic brands such as Entwhistles and Spratts.
The advertisements date from before World War Two and add to the historic feeling of the shop.
However, they have since been taken for auction in Chippenham, Wiltshire, where they are expected to fetch as much as £600 a piece.
While the store became the staple of the town, Ernest has decided now is the time to retire and shut up shop as he ‘creeps towards 80’.
He said: ‘The business had already been established since 1902 but has been on this site since 1923.
‘So it’s been 100 years and never had any work, we didn’t even think about it as we’re so busy.
‘On a Saturday my wife and I used to be so busy that we wouldn’t even speak to each other, not even time for a quick cup of tea.
‘I bought it through a friend who asked if I was looking to do something and he said he had a lovely business that would suit me to the ground.’
Moore and Toop sold agricultural supplies to farmers when it opened 100 years ago – and has not been repainted since
Ernest will continue trading until the planned handover of the property on February 24
Ernest and his wife spent five decades supplying the local farming trade with seeds and supplies
Ernest and his wife spent five decades supplying the local farming trade with seeds and supplies – with business booming up until the mid 1990s, explaining: ‘We were so busy throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s that we didn’t even think about making any changes to the shop.
‘We ran it more or less completely on our own and we were very very busy selling to local farmers and cottagers.
‘The farming industry started to change and business slowed down a bit.’
Ernest also sold dog food – which he says was one of his bestsellers – often shifting over 400 bags.
The 77-year-old said: ‘We would often have 400 bags of stock, originally from Entwistles in Liverpool, and they would always sell.
‘But as time went by, the biscuits kept changing hands to different brands and declined rapidly.
‘Fifteen or 20 years ago I discovered Spratts were still selling dog food on the game meat side.’
Original advertising board from brands of the past remained on the walls (some pictured behind Ernest’s head), but they have since been taken for auction
The shop is also home to original Avery weighing scales – which Ernest claims are better than their modern electric counterparts.
When asked if he ever though about modernising the place, Ernest said: ‘Not really, we were so busy we didn’t even think about.’
Ernest will continue trading until the planned handover of the property on February 24 – marking the end of the Moore and Toop era.
And he said: ‘I don’t think anyone would want to carry the business on. We’ve got a warehouse as well so you’d need more space to store feed. The end of era really.
‘The gentleman that has bought the space said he just wants to make it better because it’s never had any work on it – I’m not sure what he plans to do after.’
But after 54 years of trading, Ernest said that he will miss the store greatly.
He said: ‘I will miss the people without a doubt but I’m sure I’ll see most of them, if not all of them.’
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