Retail’s brave new out-of-town world
In modern times, many a high street up and down the country has been left behind in favour of outof-town shopping.
It all started with DIY stores, and then the major supermarket chains followed suit with their big bright and modern out-of-town ‘aircraft hangars’, as one person described them to me recently.
Supermarkets in the town centre and, in particular, on the high street had outgrown their prime sites by the 1990s.
And with many chains wanting to expand their ranges and venture into non-foods, they were left with little alternative but to build outside the traditional shopping areas.
The often compact and bijoux supermarkets of the town’s past are still much missed.
Moreover, with things becoming more and more profit-led, the personal service that previous generations loved and relied on is often sadly missing – although you do still find a few staff within these giant stores still that will go the extra mile to help.
In Ashford, Tesco and Sainsbury’s set the out-oftown trend by opening stores in 1992 – at Willesborough for Tesco on the former Crooksfoot house site, and on Simone Weil Avenue beside the Ashford International Hotel for Sainsbury’s.
This week’s Remember When takes a sneak peek at the fitting-out of one of the first expansion candidates – Sainsbury’s.
As a 16-year-old, I was given exclusive access to photograph the store’s interior before its completion for opening in August of that year.
Do you have any photographs or slides that you would be willing to lend me, to enable them to be scanned and featured in the Kentish Express?
If so please, write to me: Steve Salter, Kentish Express Remember When, 34-36 North Street, Ashford, TN24 8JR or email me at rememberwhen_ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @ SteveKMAshford.
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The various refrigeration units are seen together with the different departmental aisles during the final few months of fitting-out of Sainsbury’s Bybrook store.
Sainsbury’s Bybrook, 1992, and a rare view showing the general fit-out of the new store, the first time the chain had ventured out of the town centre. Here, the fruit and vegetable area can be seen being assembled, with the fish counter in the background.