Long Live Casa Bella!

I know I have  vision for the store but the question is, how am I going to get there and how much is it going to cost me?  Well, no more than £2,000 which means doing a lot the work myself, oh and drafting in good friends and bribing them with lots of cups and tea and sandwiches and maybe the odd biscuit or two.

I’ve also set about  photographing, cataloguing and posting items on Ebay, not an experience that I’d like to repeat any time soon. What exactly is this love affair with Ebay? I know there are many out there that love the site but, well, I don’t get it!  Nonetheless, it seems to have served the purpose. I had to slash a few prices here and there but I’ve managed to clear all of the outdated shelving and many of the fixture and fittings, and  I’ve made room for the demolition team (that would be me and my trusty friend again).

We set about hacking the counter to bits and demolishing its supporting wall to rubble. It was hot and it was dusty and…. well, somewhat satisfying, albeit hard work. Before long, the space was cleared and ready for me to bring in the big guns but more on that later. The next

momentous task was to remove all signage.  

So, out I go with gloves and claw hammer and the first to bear the brunt of my frustrations was the wall sign.

And then, the epitome of the grocery store, the swinging sign! Dm dm dm!  (cue dramatic music) Somebody had already contacted me about buying the sign along with its fixtures.  At first I didn’t get the point until the obvious dawned on me; it would prove much cheaper for them to melt off the the old lettering and reuse the sign than it would be to buy a new one.  And, I was all set to give it up for £60 as I just wanted shot of it and everything else that reminded me of the store. Sound mean? Allow me to explain…

Owning a convenience store is like surrendering a bit of you. You have to come to terms with the fact that because you are inviting people onto your land (in our case into our home, or an extension of it), they believe that they have a right to comment on everything that happens there. With a village store, that’s even more so because of the very thing that defines a village; a so called tight knit community.  I’ve lost count of the amount of times that people have come in and said “your lights are still on” or “when are you gong to cut your grass?” or “when are you going to cut your hedge?” or “how do I get to this address….?” or  “I told the postman that he can leave my parcel with you until I get home” and so on… along with that we also had people traipsing over the lawn (despite the ‘keep of the grass’ signs -which were eventually stolen), people using the dustbin outside the shop door for their own garbage bags and last but not least my favourite; dog owners tying their dogs outside the store, allowing them to foul the area (or even the grass) but not bothering to clean up after themselves. Nice. You name it, we’ve seen it.  To get a flavour of what it was like, imagine coming home to find a stranger’s car parked on your drive or parked across your drive so that you can’t get in or out. Now imagine strangers dropping litter outside your home, walking over your lawn (regularly) and  their dog to defecate there without having the decency to clean up after it.  the picture?

Needless to say that after putting up with this for years (because that’s what it takes to when you own a village store that just happens to be an extension of your home), it gets tiresome and you just want to take it all back.

Closing the the store was a momentous occasion, not necessarily because of the event itself but because of what it symbolised; the reclaiming of our home.  No more dogs, cats or people, for that matter, would be entitled to walk all over our land, our home, our ‘beautiful home’ (cue musical strings) and cue the new name, Casa Bella.

It was then that I resolved that I’d spend as much money as was necessary to completely eradicate any trace of the shop, to remove the post box situated on our land (that’s right, another contentious issue once the shop  closed as complete strangers would actually argue that they had a right to walk on our land to mail their letters. “Um, no, the post box was put there for your convenience whilst visiting the store.” Now that store is closed, you no longer have the right trespass. I wont bore you with the story of my altercation with a psycho lady who firstly barged her way through a closed gate to mail a letter and then had the audacity to start an argument with me about why she wasn’t warned that the box was closed. Um, the locked gate was a good hint!  Needless to say, I sent her off with a flee in her ear.

So, the rooms been cleared, the counter’s gone, the sign’s been taken down and new one is ready to take its place but this is  just the beginning…

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