The news that Peter Smith, greengrocer to the people of Wanstead, retired on Thursday shocked many customers who responded by paying generous tribute to him.
Trudi Campbell wrote: “So sorry to see you guys go! All the best for the future.” Ann Williams said: “This is really bad news â€“ Peter was one of the stalwarts of Wanstead High St and a regular stop on my shopping expeditions. Good luck, Peter and Aaron, whatever you decide to do next. Iâ€™ll really miss you.”
Reader Christine Duncan commented: “We moved away from Wanstead 14 years ago back up to Yorkshire and we always came back to say hello to you. Wanstead High Street will not be the same.”
Some readers asked why the move was so sudden with no opportunity to say goodbye. Pete himself left a comment saying it was “too emotional… I told one of our regulars and she burst into tears”.
There were however reports that one of the factors in his decision to part with the shop was a move by Redbridge Council to introduce a Â£1,200 six-monthly charge for use of the pavement area outside the shop. Wansteadium has asked the council for comment on this.
The photograph above is taken with permission from Mike Edwards’ book Shelf Life which profiled shopkeepers around Wanstead and neighbouring areas. You can see more on the book and the story of Harvey’s at this page, and if you want to buy a copy, e-mail Mike directly.