Tributes to greengrocer Pete

Photo: Mike Edwards, as featured in Shelf Life
Pete and Jim. Photo: Mike Edwards, as featured in Shelf Life

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 – 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. I’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 £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.

15 thoughts on “Tributes to greengrocer Pete”

  1. Shopping at Harvey’s has been one of my greatest pleasures, particularly at this time of year with all the treats, broad beans, peas and asparagus. I like the emphasis on food that has not travelled a long way whenever possible. It is refreshing to feel comfortable enough to be able to make comments, good or not so good, about the produce. Pete would often agree with you. A man of discerning taste in vegetables and fruit. I would have burst into tears too.

  2. I am really sorry to hear this news – Pete, Aaron, Brian and Jim have been part of our community for many many years and their humour and kindness to our local elderly will be greatly missed.
    I wish you all the best, but understand the emotions that accompany the end of a career and know that is very painful.

  3. Pete and Aaron will miss the chats and West Ham debates. Really sad to see you go. Won’t be the same. All the best. Michelle and Paul

  4. Surely the pavement was the front garden of these properties, so why should they pay twice including the business rate which will in future be retained by the council and not passed to the Treasury? This looks bad as the council wants to be paid twice for what!

  5. Peter – You’ve seen our girls grow from babies to adults and supplied all the fruit and veg we force fed them on the way, along with all our Christmas trees – although they were too big to eat. It was a pleasure to know you, we’ll really miss Wanstead’s own Tony Soprano and wish you a very happy retirement. Thanks for many years of great produce, chats and laughs. Also thanks to Aaron,Jim and Brian and all the best for the future. Rachel and Hugh.

      1. Oh Pete I couldn’t believe the news Tony greeted me with when I returned from holiday “beet roots will never taste the same” we are going to miss you so much but have a good retirement down the “van” and hope we see you some time best wishes to the boys .

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