MarketPlace: 3 in one!

It’s a Visitor Information Point

It’s a Post Office with Money Machine

It’s a warm, welcoming Newsagent & Gift Shop

I was just chatting with a good friend about the heroic stint Elsie Archer put in, maybe a decade ago now, when the Post Office was between owners and it was so cold, so cold . . . but she kept the place open through thick and thin. Elsie is as much of an institution in Allendale as anything or anyone — we all just love her to bits. The fire was as warm as toast when I dropped in this morning to pick up a copy of Liz Conway’s new CD (more on that in another entry) and a litre of milk, and Elsie was in her normal, cheerfully friendly mood. It was lovely to have a quiet chat with my back to the fire.

Over the past decade, proprietor Jo Dixon has transformed the Post Office/Newsagent into something fit for the 21st century, diversifying to fill the needs of this busy village. About a third of the shop is now a Tourist Information Point, thanks to the North Pennines AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and the local Landscape Partnership which helped create the facility. Another third is your normal post office/newsagents, with space for some crucial provisions you might just need when the Co-op is shut, while the remainder is a sophisticated gift shop and souvenir marketplace. Of course, the all-important money machine is available out front.

Claire Porter, the manager, is often joined by Jane Heather at the Post Office counter, and together with Elsie this team keeps the place running. Jo oversees everything, of course, and also runs a couple of AirBnB rooms upstairs. Diversification is everything for a rural business such as this.

It’s also a place where you naturally meet folks, catch up on the latest news, and chat about the weather, so especially in that social lubricating sense, the 3-in-1 Marketplace works like the crucial oil I keep in my handy toolbox.

2 Comments

  1. I had the delight of having Elsie as a neighbour for a number of years when I lived in Allendale, I’ve seen us in winters gone by, digging a trench through the snow in our shared back yard, to get access through to the back road, we shared some good laughs, she is certainly a major character of village life, and is loved by many.

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