Time is coming to an end for popular Brightons shop which 'wouldn't look out of place in Peaky Blinders'

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A convenience store that seems to belong to a bygone age is soon to close its doors for good after being in business in Brightons for over 100 years.

Monfries and Sons, in Pretoria Street, has been serving generations of customers over the everchanging 20th and 21st centuries, but the store itself has been stuck in a kind of retail time warp.

Shopkeeper Sandy Monfries, who has worked at the store since he was 17, himself admitted the shop would not look out of place in an episode of Peaky Blinders – which, in case you did not know, is set in the early 1920s.

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In fact stepping into the shop – which has been in its current location since 1945 – is like visiting the past and it is a wonder why some film crew somewhere has not used the store as a location for one of their historical productions.

From one long established Falkirk area institution to another - shopkeeper Sandy Monfries takes a break to peruse The Falkirk HeraldFrom one long established Falkirk area institution to another - shopkeeper Sandy Monfries takes a break to peruse The Falkirk Herald
From one long established Falkirk area institution to another - shopkeeper Sandy Monfries takes a break to peruse The Falkirk Herald

Sandy, 64, said: “Well we’ve never had an offer for something like that, but that might be an option. It does look like something you might see in Peaky Blinders.”

Now Sandy believes the “time is right” to move on and has put the beloved store he has been running since 1977 on the market.

"I left Graeme High School and came to work in the shop,” he said. “It’s been hard work, but I’ve always enjoyed it.”

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The business itself started off in Main Street, Brightons back in 1919 with Sandy’s grandfather, John W Monfries in charge and has passed down from generation to generation of the Monfries family over the years.

After almost half-a-century in charge Sandy Monfries is putting the local institution that is Monfries and Sons up for sale(Picture: Michael Gillen, National World)After almost half-a-century in charge Sandy Monfries is putting the local institution that is Monfries and Sons up for sale(Picture: Michael Gillen, National World)
After almost half-a-century in charge Sandy Monfries is putting the local institution that is Monfries and Sons up for sale(Picture: Michael Gillen, National World)

Shopkeepers and the world might have changed down through the decades, but the shop certainly has not.

"We did have people come in over the years,” said Sandy. “They said they could refurbish the shop and they showed me pictures and I thought, well then it just looks like every other shop.

"I didn’t want that so it just stayed the same. People remember it because it is so different from other shops.”

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Now the end is near, Sandy has time to reflect on the last half century he has been in charge of one of the oldest – if not the oldest – businesses in the Falkirk area.

The famous and long established Monfries and Sons has been in Pretoria Place since 1945 but the business is much older than thatThe famous and long established Monfries and Sons has been in Pretoria Place since 1945 but the business is much older than that
The famous and long established Monfries and Sons has been in Pretoria Place since 1945 but the business is much older than that

"People come in here now and say ‘I used to come in here when my mum sent me up here for messages’ and now they have a family of their own. It’s hard to pick out just one memory from all the years – there are so many different things that have happened.

“It’s certainly long hours. You’re talking 5.30am to 6.30pm and 70 hours a week. Even the half day on Wednesdays when people would think I was off, I was out getting stock or things that needed doing for the shop.

""The customers have been great. People have been with us for years and years.”

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And Sandy will continue meeting and serving them as he works on until a suitable offer is made for the historic store.

"There are a lot of commercial premises up for sale in Falkirk just now – I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

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