High Street

We are inspired by these descriptions of how the shop windows originally came to be distinct from one another, from J. M. Richards’ High Street illustrated by Eric Ravilious, originally published in 1938:

When we come to notice the appearance of different kinds of shops we find that each has acquired its own characteristics appearance through custom and the habit of arranging its good in a particular way.  We can distinguish at once between the style of the butcher’s shop, for example, with its big window with the door at one side, and with rows of joints hanging up, arranged so that customers inside can point out which one they want, and the chemist’s shop and the hardware shop with smaller windows containing shelves to hold a lot of miscellaneous objects, usually with the door iin the middle, and the fishmonger’s and greengrocer’s with their goods displayed on one big shelf in front of the window, so that people passing can see what’s in season.

In many places the personal and local character of the shops is disappearing.  This is because many shops are now only branches of the big multiple stores, which for convenience are made all the same, and because of the use of ready-made shop fronts and fittings. But it is no use regretting the coming of the multiple store and the standardization of shop fronts, as these are part of our modern way of organizing business and do, on the whole, make better goods available for more people.  Even if they do make town look more alike, and therefore duller, it is a convenience when you are travelling to find branches of a shop you already know. And there is no reason why modern shops need be ugly.  When they are, it is often because the sensible customary arrangements that distinguish one kind of shop from another have been lost and their place taken by persuasive advertisements.  Also they generally do not fit into the street so well.