Shopkeepers, the Sharmas and the making of modern Britain

Britain is a nation of shopkeepers, and the story of corner shops is the story of us.

From Margaret Thatcher, the daughter of shopkeepers, to immigration from Pakistan, Kenya and Eastern Europe over the last seventy years, these tiny shops and the people who run them have shaped the way we shop, the way we eat, and the way we understand ourselves.

Babita Sharma was raised in a corner shop in Reading, and over the counter watched a changing world, from the clientele to the products to the politics of shopkeeping. Along with the skills to perfectly mop a floor and stack a shelf, she gained a unique insight into a changing world – and an institution that, despite the creep of supermarkets, online shopping and delivery, has found a way to evolve and survive.


‘Full of life, characters, gossip and all the richness of the local community’ Sir David Jason

‘A compelling, full selection box of a story’ Sanjeev Kohli

Babita Sharma is a journalist and presenter. A BBC World News anchor, Babita also co-presents the BBC One series Supermarket Shopping Secrets, and her BBC Four documentary – Booze, Beans & Bhajis – was widely praised. Passionate about diversity and mental health issues, Babita works with mental health charity Mind and is part of the diversity programme at the BBC. She lives in London, and is the daughter of two shopkeepers. The Secret History of the Corner Shop is her first book.

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