When I was a wee one, like millions of my peers, I liked to play shop. There is a shopkeeper in every one if us my Dad used to say as he drove off to his Cash and carry.
Well, the junior entrepreneurs of countless bedrooms went a long way to prove him right.
There were stacks of play shop toys on the market back then: sweet shops, post office [My Wife's fave] and bus conductor to name but a few by toy makers like Berwick, Thomas Salter and Merit.
I remember my bus conductor set comprising of a cap and a tin ticket puncher, along with rolls of green and red bus tickets. What fun it was to issue tickets to my Mum, Dad, Sibs and mates as they went passed a certain door or up the stairs. The most satisfying of activities was the actual punching of the paper with my tin machine, essentially a cubed can with a spring-loaded nail inside a recess, in which the tickets were placed. All aboard!
Here is a picture of what I think are the remains of such a bus conductor set, which my friend Mark owned: the green strap of the tin puncher and two London tickets priced 1p and 2p marked Toy Town Omnibus Co. Ltd.
The undersides advertise yet another toy, "SHOOT The finest indoor football game"!
Much more complicated were the post office toys sets available at the time, which seemed to get bigger and bigger depending on how many envelopes were included! Here are two boxed sets from the Sixties, the top being of unknown origin and the bottom Berwick.
The sweet shops comprised mostly of small jars of sweets, which could all be measured out on scales, slipped into paper bags and actually eaten! Dolly Mixtures were a staple at these junior shops! here's a beautiful Sooty Sweet Shop by Berwick I saw on the Bay ages ago from the 1950's.
Now it was indeed possible to dispense with branded toys like these altogether and simply create your own jobs and shops with materials found around the Parental home!
And this is exactly what I did to create my favourite infant business bar none, Woodsy's Library!
I adored playing at Librarian and everyone in the house was encouraged to borrow a book: parents, sibs, friends, siblings' friends, grandparents and even Shandy the dog!
Basically to simulate the perfect library I used the following: a slat backed chair as my counter, with the seat turned towards me; a stack of books, mags and comics on view, a pile of blank slips of paper and a date stamp and ink pad, which were everywhere in those days.
Books were chosen from the pile and then passed to me through the chair slats. I would deftly take a slip of paper and carry out by far the most pleasing of any stage in the operation, date stamping the slip with a firm downward strike. Even better than the normal stamp were those spring loaded stampers, which emitted a hypnotic tinny sound as the sprung stamp element turned round on impact and hit the paper.
My Wife took this one stage further in her own youthful book scheme; she stamped every book in the house with a rubber stamper stating her name and address. We've still got many of them now!
I dread to think what the fines will be!
Did you play shop readers? Did you own a toy set or make your own?