Iconic Grantham greengrocer Arnold Graham to shut up shop

David Graham outside Arnold's greengrocers which has been in his family for 59 years.
David Graham outside Arnold's greengrocers which has been in his family for 59 years.
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After 59 years providing the people of Grantham with fruit and veg, Arnold Graham is closing down.

The independent shop in Swinegate has been the workplace of David Graham ever since he left school, aged 16, and joined his father Arnold, after whom the greengrocers is named.

Now, after a lifetime of early mornings to fetch the fresh produce, and being a familiar face for generations of customers, 62-year-old David is planning to begin his retirement.

He said: “I’m getting to the stage now when I’m ready to finish, and with the costs of things as they are, it’s the right time.”

Although the long-serving greengrocer has not confirmed the last day yet, he is planning for it to be in the next couple of weeks.

Over the years, David has seen the town change dramatically, and in particular its expansion.

He said: “This used to be the centre of Grantham. People from the town would walk down past the church and the shop, but now cars and buses take them straight to the centre.”

He has also seen many of his fellow independent retailers disappear, and describes Arnold’s as “one of the last”.

However he understands the appeal of his competitors, adding: “Supermarkets are so easy to get to, and everything is there, you just have to walk round.”

David, though, has always gone out of his way to provide customers with what they want, and added: “Any fruit and veg they ask for, I try and get it.”

Alongside the fresh produce, Arnold’s was also the place to go for penny sweets and ice-creams, perfectly located for children on their way home from the nearby schools.

The building isn’t completely leaving the family, as it is in the process of being bought and renovated by the husband of one of David’s cousins, Duncan Macdonald.

The plan is to refurbish Arnold’s and the flat above, and while the new landlord intends to keep downstairs as a shop he is not sure yet what type of retailer will take over.

Up until now the greengrocers has retained many of its original features such as wooden panelling and a manual till.

Meanwhile, the shop sign which was hand-painted by popular town artist and Journal cartoonist Terry Shelbourne has already been taken down, but David is keeping it as a souvenir.

Despite this evident love of the traditional, David is proud that his father was often ahead of his time. “He was one of the first people in the town to get a freezer” he remembers, and also credits his father for the choice of bright green for the frontage, which has always ensured that Arnold’s has stood out.

It was in 1955 that David’s father took over the greengrocers, which at that time was connected to a bakery next door.

Arnold Graham, who was born in Cecil Street, met Nora and had David who always knew he would inherit the business, having no brothers or sisters.

Born himself only around the corner in Castlegate, David went to Boys’ Central School and the National School, and then on leaving aged 16 joined his dad in the family trade.

David has fond memories of working alongside his father, who even after his retirement was often still to be found in the shop serving customers.

Moreover it’s clear that like him his son is not immediately going to know how to take it easy, with David suggesting that he might look for some part-time work or volunteering to fill his retirement hours.

Although since his family moved out of the flat above the greengrocers David has been based at Harlaxton, he is keeping close connections to the town and still plans to regularly attend St Wulfram’s Church.

David’s key role in the community is recognised by neighbouring retailer Imogen Wall of Belvoir Antiques and Interiors, one of many sorry to see him go.

She said: “He’s known by everybody around here, and is very involved in the church.”

Touched by her kind words, David added: “We’ve become good friends. All the businesses around here are great.”

There is no doubt then that the presence of David’s friendly face and Arnold’s eye-catching green frontage will very much be missed.