Carolyn likes her job so much she bought the shop!
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
A time-warp shop nicknamed the Arkwright’s of the Broads is ticking on as it always has – despite having a new owner.
For the “new” face behind the counter has in fact been there for 37 years serving generations of trippers.
Carolyn Mobbs knows many of the regulars by name and greets returning visitors with a cheerful hug.
But now, after many years as a dedicated member of staff – she has bought the shop.
Famed for its old-fashioned friendliness and boasting a loyal clientele who love its no-frills simplicity Ludham Bridge Stores has remained virtually unchanged for decades.
Making the move into management has been a big step for Mrs Mobbs who was thrown into a dilemma when the shop she loved was offered for sale.
The 59-year-old has now taken it on as a family concern with her husband Andrew, daughter Katie and son-in-law Reuben Barnard – guaranteeing its future when she gives up.
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Mrs Mobbs, who has lived in the village all her life, worked for the previous owner John Paul until the shop was taken over by Graham and Mary Bensley, along with the cafe next door, five years ago.
With Mr Bensley came the first changes – albeit fairly minor, internal ones – since probably the Second World War.
Other than that the shop ticks on as it always did.
Open seasonally from March to November most of the customers are drawn from the waterways and nearby caravan park.
Although their numbers have dwindled the shop still does a good trade despite competition from supermarkets who deliver to boats at appointed times.
Mr Bensley said that running both the cafe and the shop was becoming too much so he offered the shop to Mrs Mobbs, and happily she accepted.
“I just love it,” she said. “It is a bit daunting because I have never run a business before but with Graham’s help I am getting on.”
The shop is the only one on the River Ant for miles and provides a life-line for visitors.
It found television fame in the early 1990s when the cast of EastEnders called in, leading to a lucrative spike in custom and a run of souvenir mugs.
Mr Bensley, who still runs the Wayfarers cafe next door while his son has the angling shop on the same strip, said people loved the quaint store which they referred to affectionately as Arkwright’s from the BBC sitcom Open All Hours.
In fact the nickname had become so established that he even brought a brown shop coat like the one worn by Ronnie Barker’s stammering grocer.
The shop sells everything from children’s fishing nets to soap, gifts, and tins of food and is proud to ring things up on the till rather than scan them like in fancier, more modern shops.
Mrs Mobbs said it was strange to think she popped in 37 years ago to see if there were any vacancies and now found herself in charge. At the time it fitted in well with having a young baby – who has now grown up to be a partner in the business.
The shop is open seven days a week from around 7.30am to 5pm in high season.