Ex-grocer aims to be top of the shops

Peter Lea, who has turned his newsagents/general store into a sandwich and hot food takeaway.
Peter Lea, who has turned his newsagents/general store into a sandwich and hot food takeaway.

A GROCER in Bowerham has transformed his convenience store into a sandwich shop.

Peter Lea said long working hours, the recession and the impact of an armed robbery last year had all played a part in the decision.

Peter, 58, has changed the name of the shop on Coulston Road from Lea’s Grocers to The Top Shop, a name he said locals had always insisted on using – the nearby Spar is known as The Bottom Shop.

The shop, which Peter is running with his wife Christine, offers freshly made sandwiches, hot snacks including pies and sausage rolls.

But it is continuing to stock cupboard essentials like milk, bread and eggs.

“I just wanted a complete change,” said Peter, who had run Lea’s Grocers for 16 years.

“The shop was open until 10pm and it was very tiring.

“With the economic climate it was also harder to make as good a living and the robbery was part of the mix too – it could have been a lot worse.”

Two masked men burst into the shop in February, hitting a 20-year-old shop assistant with a stick before fleeing after he warded them off with a brush.

The pair were caught and later charged.

Besides himself and his wife, Peter is employing one full-time employee and is also planning to take on two part-time staff.

After nearly a month of trading, Peter said the signs were encouraging.

“It can be quiet for half an hour but then it goes absolutely crazy and that is before the university students come back,” he said.

“The customers so far have been very receptive to what we’ve offered in terms of price and quality.

“We want to base the business on quality and sampled all sorts of goods during the eight weeks the shop was closed for refurbishment.”

Singleton’s of Garstang is supplying the shop with goods including bread, cakes pies and sausages, while other foods come from Total Food Service in Clitheroe.

The shop is open from 8am-2pm, Monday-Friday.