diamond geezer

 Monday, April 04, 2011

Somewhere retail: Crayford Sainsbury's
In the fifty-or-so years since supermarkets took off, they've been growing steadily larger and larger. And Crayford's is one of the largest. Now six months old it's Britain's largest Sainsbury's, covering more than 100000 square feet and more than double the size of its previous incarnation. Unusually this supermarket's bang in the middle of town, a couple of minutes walk from Crayford's main shopping street, even though the great majority of customers still arrive by car. It's nothing special from the outside, so the scale of the building only hits when you walk inside. Woo. To your right, aisle after aisle after aisle of food. By the time you've walked down to the frozen foods and back, you'll have expended enough calories to part-cancel that six-pack of luxury choc-ices. There are 47 checkouts altogether, although number 47 is so far from the front door that staff appear to have given up and now use it for stockpiling cardboard boxes and packaging. At the opposite end there's the "home and lifestyle" section, which in 2011 stretches to double beds and 50" TV sets. A lonely-looking operative waited patiently at the "coffee-pod" in case anybody wanted a latte or danish pastry (but seemingly not, all too busy buying stuff). And this is a double decker supermarket, so a gently-sloping travelator waits to whisk you and your trolley from the front entrance up to the ladieswear/menswear mezzanine. Straight back down for me, I'm afraid, but at least the descent afforded some in-depth views to the back of the store [photo]. The little town of Crayford would never have merited its own department store, because that would have been wholly uneconomic, but it's definitely got one now. When I see spending on this scale, both from J Sainsbury plc and its customers, I have to wonder where the recession is. And with the smaller shops in the High Street already swamped by an adjacent retail park, I also have to wonder how much longer Crayford's trading diversity can survive.
by train: Crayford   by bus: 96, 428, 492

Somewhere sporting: Crayford Greyhound Stadium
I wasn't intending to overdose on Crayford - I had Welling United lined up as my "somewhere sporting" for Bexley. But the football team were away at Woking, so there wouldn't have been much to see. And there was the dog track, lurking round the back of Crayford Sainsbury's car park, so I had to wander over for a look. It was lunchtime on Saturday, so I wasn't expecting any action. But the sound of yapping dogs hinted otherwise, as did the young bloke stood outside telling a mate on the phone how he'd just won £2 on the last race. The main door to the stadium was wedged open and the turnstile inoperative and unguarded, so I ventured inside. And sure enough a race meeting was indeed well underway, for the benefit of betting shops nationwide, and any non-paying spectators who fancied walking in from the street. There seemed to be only a single family watching, at least until I turned and looked towards the entrance to the Hare and Hounds bar. Several men were hanging around with pints and betting slips, looking expectantly towards the tracks. Seems I'd arrived bang on time for the 12:39... and they're off! Six sleek greyhounds came tearing round the track [photo], chasing what ought to have been a hare but looked suspiciously like an orange plastic bag. Twice round, which should have been really exciting, except that I hadn't studied the form card nor laid a bet so the race's subtext was completely lost on me. Swift Maxine nosed ahead of Ferndale Larry, as it turned out, although from the commentary all I deduced was that 5 had beaten 3. But blimey, free greyhound racing and a bar, every Saturday lunchtime - it's a wonder the place isn't packed out.
by train: Crayford   by bus: 96, 428, 492

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