Written by Irena Barker
Residents in the St James Street area have bid a heartfelt farewell to one of Walthamstow’s best-loved shopkeepers.
Narendra Jadeja, known as ‘JD’ to his customers, has run the busy Londis grocery shop on Coppermill Lane, with his wife Lata, since 1989. During his three decades behind the counter, he provided locals with everything from sweets and drinks to washing up liquid and – importantly – a listening ear!
Now, JD and Lata have sold the shop to a new family and hope to spend a relaxing and well-earned retirement in the leafy streets of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. JD told the Echo: “I will miss the conversations I have with my customers and most of all the children, I will miss their smiles.”
JD, who is 63, first moved to London from Malawi in 1976 and worked in a warehouse and even a factory making darts. He also turned his hand to cab driving and ran a petrol station, then finally bought the Coppermill Lane shop after seeing it advertised – following in his parents’ and granddad’s footsteps as shopkeepers.
The shop sale went through when Lata was in labour with their second son, Pranavraj. Their older son Shailraj was aged five. There followed some tough years bringing up two sons, running the shop, and arranging delivery of 500 newspapers a day.
“When I first came here up to 50% of the customers were pensioners and they did not have a lot of spare cash, so it was really hard work,” he said.
But the shop is now a thriving hub and meeting spot for everyone from young children to pensioners, parents, commuters, and sports players from nearby Douglas Eyre.
“The area has improved a lot,” says JD, adding: “The community is friendly and supportive.”
Without his wife Lata, JD may not have succeeded with the shop at all. “She had to look after the children, look after the house, feed us, and help me in the shop as well, so she had a lot on her plate.”
Younger clients’ favourite sweet purchases at Londis are Kinder Surprises and Chupa Chups lollies, according to JD, although his own favourite is Cadbury’s whole nut chocolate. The business has now been bought by Jagdeep Singh, who has plans to extend opening hours.
Jan Rowles, a resident of Morland Road who has known JD for eleven years, said: “I’ve never heard him utter a bad word. He was always up for a little chat, asking about elderly customers, and seemed to remember a lot of local children by name. He has been such a caring, considerate member of our community.”
Natalie McCormack, from Salop Road, who has been visiting the shop for 19 years, added: “JD and his family have been part of our lives for so long we are going to miss their friendly smiles, and their ability to greet our children by name, even remembering their favourite treats.
“My son’s first trip out of the house alone was to Londis and I knew I could trust JD to see him right.”