Checkley’s in Ilkeston end 80-year legacy

John and Mary Checkley are retiring from their shop in Ilkeston after many years in business, John and Mary are pictured with Daughter Liz Smith
John and Mary Checkley are retiring from their shop in Ilkeston after many years in business, John and Mary are pictured with Daughter Liz Smith

Loyal customers have wished a fond farewell to the owners of Checkley’s shop as the much-loved couple retire and sell on the business.

The independent grocery shop and post office on Little Hallam Lane, Ilkeston, has been running for over 80 years and has now been sold on to a national group.

The shop was started in 1933, said John Checkley, 66, who is sad to have to step down from the day-to-day running of the business.

He added: “But I’m pleased to be able to enjoy retirement.

“Our customers are more friends than customers. The well wishes we’ve had from them has been fantastic.”

Mr Checkley’s grandfather, Arthur, started the shop in 1933, he said.

“He was a miner before the war but he lost a lung in combat, so when he came back to settle down he couldn’t go back down the mines, so he started the post office.

John, 66, and Mary, 65, took over the shop from John’s parents, Kenneth and Joyce, in 1981, and bought back the post office from other family owners in 2002.

They have worked side by side for 34 years - the secret to a healthy partnership is a little bit of distance, added John.

“We’ve been doing our own things - Mary’s done the Post Office and I’ve done the shop side of things.”

It hasn’t always been easy, particularly as they got closer to retirement.

Mary said: “In 2000 we joined the Londis buying group. My husband was still going down to the cash and carry every morning at 6am and he was getting a bit older - he’d had enough of it.”

More recently daughter Liz, 43, has also been working in Mary’s place due to ill-health. She said: “She’s done so well but she can’t do it on her own, and she doesn’t feel she can stay on without us.”

But it’s an exciting time for the family, she added.

“Things are going to change. It’s emotional to leave the shops and uproot our lives, but we’re building a new house of our own and we’re looking forward to having another chapter in our lives.”

The shop has been an independent business since the beginning, and was taken over by McColls on Monday, February 9 - but the Checkley legacy will live on.

John said: “They want to carry on with the local products that we keep - we’ve had all sorts of things we always sold from local producers like bread and eggs.

“It’s been very important to the community. We’ve had so many cards saying how much people will miss it, which makes us feel very proud.”

Liz added: “We are so sorry that we are leaving the shop. But we are looking forward to spending some quality time with mum and dad.”