To shop or not to shop

Do you miss being able to just go into a shop whenever you like and to linger at the vegetable (or any other) display before making your choice? Our shopping habits have surely changed! I realised that I haven’t been to a major Supermarket since lockdown in the UK began – the smaller shop not far from where I live has all I need – and is big enough for physical distancing to work. So this cardboard display/toy is a chance to time-travel to an era when life was different. I hope you enjoy it.

cardboard cutout showing man unloading van in front of warehouse.
Cardboard cutout of fictional Supermarket showing Coffee, Bakery and Dairy Products displays.
While I have found a few ‘B & H Super Markets’ I think I can safely assume that this one was invented – it was not a promotional toy.
illustration of fictional Super market showing freezer packed with food and frozen vegetable
illustration of vegetable and fruit boxes such as apples and carrots
cardboard cut-outs of 2 supermarket displays: one of tins, one of ketchup bottles. Plus cardboard cut-out of man weighing item.
Two cardboard cut-outs: one showing girl and shopping trolley, the other a boy with a paper bag filled with vegetables.

The inclusion of the shopping cart and the dress of the lady visiting the café makes me fairly sure that the whole set is from the early 1940s. The shopping cart was invented in 1937 – the photo below is from 1941.

Photo from 1941 showing a woman and a boy in an aisle in a super market.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Much more interesting – at least for children – would be the visit to the Pet Shop – which includes a ‘Kittengarten’!

cardboard cut-out illustrated with interior of a Pet Shop (monkey, parrot and aquarium).
cardboard cut-out illustrated with interior of a Pet Shop (monkey, parrot and rabbits).
cardboard cut-out illustrating entrance to and shop windows of a fictional pet shop.
I am glad most pet-shops no longer ‘stock’ living animals but I still like the illustration.
illustration of cages housing puppies, kittens, rabbits and chicks
2 separate cardboard cut-outs. One depicting 2 girls carrying a dachshund, the other a doghouse with a for sale sign.
photo of a real cat sitting inside a cardboard house. Bookshelves and a decorative item in the background.
My cat knows its place – the Pet Shop, of course

After an exhausting shopping trip, refreshments are necessary…

cardboard cut-out of side of fictional café "the Old Mill"
cardboard cut-out of entrance to fictional café "the Old Mill"
illustration of display of chocolates and candy of fictional café "the Old Mill".
cardboard cut-outs. Back views of lady and child dressed in green dresses
Three cardboard cut-outs: two of café tables and chairs, one of waitress carrying tray of tea or coffee and 2 cups.
Yes, I could use a drink now
Two cardboard cut-outs: one showing a small boy letting a dog lick an ice cream from a cone, the other a baby in a buggy
not sure if ice-cream is good for dogs…. at least it’s just imagined.
black and white illustration of a fictional shopping mall.
This is what the complete set should look like – I don’t have the roof, and only one female customer (the other figure is the waitress at ‘The Old Mill). The two males depicted are ‘serving’. I like the fact that children seem to run the place and it would have made playing with this even more fun.

Here’s hoping that we can be sitting down for a coffee or tea and more in a restaurant soon – until (and even) then, stay safe!


  1. Another pleasure seeing such treats. Thank you for taking us down memory lane. Xxxx

  2. Such a charming diorama, I absolutely love it. Well done for matching the 1941 photo of the shopping trolley with the one in the set.
    I like the ‘Old Mill’ part, with its finest Durch chocolate candies – they even have some tulips growing outside the window.
    The pet shop is funny… “Honey, I just got back from the pet shop.” “What did you get?” “A monkey.” “Oh!?”
    It’s good the set has kept all its colours – still bright and crisp after all these years. And the pic of your cat in the pet shop watching the delivery man in the yard is brilliant! 🙂

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