By JOHN ROBERTSON
The north end of Lerwick should be a stronger community again from today with the re-opening of the Staneyhill Shop after a gap of two years.
Lerwick couple Najma and Asghar Ali have fulfilled the hopes of the North Staney Hill Community Association for a convenience store so they no longer have to traipse into town for even the basics like bread and milk.
The shop is to open seven days a week, selling newspapers and groceries including local meat, fish, bread, eggs and sandwiches.
Mrs Ali, who has lived in Shetland since she was “a wee mootie”, hopes the shop can also be a focal point for the community and tailored to its needs. “We will have a suggestion book so folk can tell us what they would like to see in the shop,” she said.
One innovation planned is to operate an orders and delivery service for old folk around the north end of Lerwick who do not have easy access to a car. Equally, for the younger generation, no trip all the way to the Co-op will be required now when they want an ice cream. The samosas and other hot snacks and drinks should also entice some of the workers around the north end of town.
The Alis already run World Tastes, opposite the bus station on Commercial Road, and have included some of its range of food, spices and fresh international produce. One product noticeably absent is alcohol because Mrs Ali believes there are plenty other places selling it already. Cigarettes and tobacco will be sold.
The opening of a community shop is a rare occasion these days and five people popped along in the space of a few minutes on Wednesday to say hello or deliver supplies while Mrs Ali tried to create order out of chaos as she prepared for the first day.
Community association secretary Ingrid Sandison appeared with copies of the latest community newsletter which reports on the Staney Hill Hall facelift and the refurbishment of two playparks. It seems the area, perhaps unfairly maligned at times, is on the up.
Mrs Sandison said the association was formed a year ago and getting the shop reopened had been on the agenda at each meeting since. A questionnaire showed the lack of a shop was local people’s biggest grouse. At one point when the building looked destined to be turned into offices it prompted a 250-signature protest petition.
Mrs Sandison said it was going to be brilliant having a local shop again. “It will bring back the community spirit.”
Association members have been lending a hand to make the shop ready. Mrs Ali said they had even fitted all the new shelving. “We couldn’t believe it,” she said. “It was really such a big help to us and we really appreciated it.”
Now she is really looking forward to getting started. “We’re just hoping everybody will support us.”