A walk around a closing supermarket

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Back in January, our local Stirchley Co-op supermarket closed forever; a Coop had been on that particular site for 106 years and in the Stirchley, Birmingham, area for 145 years.

Several Walkspace members planned a processional last walk up and down the aisles to say goodbye properly, and also see what lay behind the layers of goods to the emerging skeleton of the store. The closing of this Co-op was no small deal to the local community and about 100 other people wanted to join them.

Fast forward to July, and this week, delayed by a global pandemic and subsequent lockdown, a Morrison's opened on the site.

It was finally time to write up that doomed walk, lay Stirchley's greatest ever retail character to rest and tell the story of what happened on the Co-op's last day.

The full walk report is a photo essay memorial. It lives here as part of a series of local walks called 'Perambulate With Me'. Here's an excerpt:

On 25th January 2020, the Stirchley Co-op sadly closed forever. The urge to see it one last time was strong. It was a strange feeling, after all it was just a shop. And yet… this was the supermarket I had grown up with in the 1970s-80s and returned to in the 2000s-10s. 

The Stirchley Co-op’s last day was a Saturday and there wasn’t much shopping to be done anymore. The shelves had been slowly emptying over the previous weeks and whole sections of the store were now being closed off… Locals were tweeting about the ‘apocalyptic scenes’ as if the end were nigh. Given what was to come, it was prescient.

Fellow Stirchley resident and psychogeographer Andy Howlett and I decided to walk the Co-op.

To: “mournfully walk up and down the empty isles, browsing instead the infrastructure that remains”.

To embrace: “The stark angles of empty metal shelving! The receding vistas of shopper-free aisles! The rhythm of its layout and walkways! The final beeps of the disappearing tills! The barren promotional structures offering no deals!”

To say a last goodbye.

Read the rest here…

More Stirchley-based deep walk explorations are coming soon, which take our community-sourced lockdown 'Map of Noticed Things' as the raw material. See the map and read about the project here: Mapping Stirchley.