A heartfelt ‘thank you’ from a well-known shopkeeper whose sad loss saw many of her considerate customers offer support and compassion in her hour of need.
Wiping a tear from her eye, Manjit Rana admits that the death of her husband taught her just how much her family and their business had become valued within the community. Sitting in The Tipsy Toad shop that she and her husband started more than 25 years ago, Manjit says, ‘It was when my husband, Rana – he was known by his surname – died that I came to realise how much people loved our shop.
‘It is impossible to say thank you to everyone who helped out at that time, but the outpouring of support was incredible. It was the first time in my life that I realised what true friendship was. Family and friends came forward.’
Her husband was a well-known face on Hammersmith Grove, where he and Manjit ran the convenience shop together. However, after enduring an illness that lasted eight years, Rana passed away in 2013, aged just 59.
‘The death of my husband was a terrible time for me and all of my family,’ she continues. ‘But somehow the support we received helped us to get back on our feet and carry on. It was a tremendous help.’
It was her husband’s favourite phrase that she would often repeat to herself to help her when she found she missed him the most.
‘He would always say, “There is always a solution.” And, he was right. The community became part of the solution which helped us come to terms with our loss.’
Manjit was born in the Punjab and moved to the UK where she met Rana at a family gathering. The couple married in 1978. At that time he was working as a television servicing manager atHarrods, and Manjit was working in a bank in the City. But in 1989 they took over the shop and the couple, along with their two sons Inder and Prabh, were regularly seen opening up at 7am, stocking the shelves and closing up at 11pm.
Manjit has experienced many ups and downs, including a fire which almost wiped out the business.
Now 58, she has ensured the shop has stayed in the family. Both Inder, 34, and Prabh, 31, have worked there, but since the elder son got a job in IT in the City, Prabh now works the later shift. But, their mother’s dedication to the store has meant she has only just taken her first holiday in five year. And in the spirit of goodwill, she has also just launched a delivery service for older residents who may find it difficult to pop out to the shops.
‘Occasionally people will come to the door and there is a sign outside that says “We’re Closed.”
‘It means I am usually delivering to our senior citizens or the infirm who are unable to pop down to the shop for essentials. I found that this is a way of giving back to the community. We truly love our customers.’
Manjit is also keen to keep up with the trends and changing tastes of the neighbourhood by stocking up on organic produce, artisan breads and a wide selection of wines from France, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, California and South Africa, not to mention a selection of beers and spirits that the best stocked bar would be proud to show off. Organic French wine is a particular favourite.
Despite selling such a large collection of good wines and the obvious allusion in the very name of the shop to a character with a penchant for booze, Manjit, who is Sikh, has never touched a drop of alcohol.
‘I never developed a taste for it,’ she explained. ‘And I don’t think I ever will.’
020 8741 9358
91 Hammersmith Grove
London W6 0NQ