Shopping Local

Have you done all of your Christmas shopping yet? Or are you waiting until the last minute to shop while Carol singers and brass bands are playing in the street and people are wishing each other a merry Christmas?

Christmas shopping in Fenwick, Newcastle, 1966.

My job is to preserve modern objects for future generations to understand about our lives now in 2013.  Over the last few years I have collected the best selling Christmas toy from Fenwick’s and other Christmas related objects which would otherwise not be saved.  Things like wrapping paper and crackers are part of most people’s Christmas traditions and are at the bottom of the wheelie bin by the end of Christmas day.

At the moment I’m working on a project to collect material to represent the local high street.  For many different reasons the high street is changing.  Mary Portas believes that it is in crisis and people need to shop local and use their local high streets in order for them to survive.

Northumberland Street, Newcastle, 2013

Most people who celebrate Christmas do a lot of shopping in November and December so it’s a good time to see how people shop.  Are you an avid supporter of shopping local, do you buy most of your presents on the internet or do you do a bit of both?  I’d really like to know so that I can find out what the people of Tyneside think about their high streets and how they use them.

I’ve been looking at high streets in Gateshead, Newcastle, South Shields and Whitley Bay.  I want to collect objects from businesses and shoppers which give information about what it’s like to shop or work on the high street.  Objects might include shop signs, merchandise, posters, shopping bags, shop baskets, Christmas gift guides, shop uniforms and badges as well as recorded interviews with shop staff, street cleaners and shoppers.

Park View, Whitley Bay, 2013

What I’d really like is for others – anyone in Tyne and Wear – to suggest what they think Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums should collect to represent their local high street and why it is or isn’t important to them.  What objects would you preserve to show future generations about your memories of shopping?  What do you think is important?  Please let me know.




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