HERE'S a busy shop window to brighten the heart of anyone with a love of boiled sweets, tobacco products, boot polish and proprietary cleaning agents.

Breathe in as you entered and you'd almost be overcome by the scent of polish, pipe tobacco, soor plooms and cinnamon balls. Either that or you'd trip over the piles of papers near the door.

In the days before the big chain stores invaded every corner of our city, such family-run concerns were the mainstay of most communities. Open from dawn 'til dusk, they acted as store, community centre and talking shops, selling everything from paraffin for lamps to segs for your shoes.

Then, as now, they were also the first stop for schoolkids when the bell rang for the end of the day, providing shelves of sweet treats to crack their teeth on.