From 'The Lenton Listener' Issue 14
September - October 1981
Robinson's Sweet Shop
In the first few years of this century, the shop at 67 Lenton Boulevard opened for business. It began as a butchers, but after about 10 years, was converted to a greengrocers. In the mid-twenties, a Mrs. Marshall changed it to a confectioners and that is what it has remained to the present day. Older Lentonians may remember that a Miss Daisy Burrell used to run the shop until the late fifties when she retired after 30 years behind the sweet shop counter. In 1958, the present owners 'Robbie' and Nesta Robinson took over.
Robbie started work with British Home Stores, but he and Nesta soon branched out on their own with a small general grocery in the Meadows. In her later years Miss Burrell had rather let her shop run down, but when it came on the market Robbie and Nesta could see its potential on New Lenton's main shopping street and so made the move from the Meadows.
The British are famed for being real 'suckers' for sweets, and the nation have long munched more sweets per head of population than any other in the world. Therefore, a sweetshop at the 'corner' of the street has often been a common sight. But the supermarkets and hypermarkets of the 60s and 70s have begun to eat into sweet shop sales. Many small confectioners must have been tempted into diversifying into other lines to help maintain their trading position - but not so the Robinsons. They believe there should continue to be room for a speciality confectionary shop such as theirs.
Robinson's shop window was always a major bonus to the local
street scene. This undated photograph provided by the Robinsons
shows a display of the Easter eggs they had on sale.
Certainly, anyone entering the shop is definitely spoilt for choice. You must be pretty difficult to please if you can't find anything you fancy from the 74 different jar-lines on display or the 55 different weigh-out lines (in boxes rather than jars), while there are always the 170 odd counter lines to choose from. The Robinsons take all the more common brands of chocolate, but also keep the more unusual names such as 'Beech's, the Belgian 'Cote d'Or' and the German 'Ritter' range of chocolates. This wide rang confectionary is obviously much appreciated. Apart from their many local regulars, purchasers frequently come from outside the area to buy from their shop. This is especially the case at their peak selling periods of Easter and Christmas.
Amongst those local regulars are the many children who pop in to spend the pennies at the children's counter. There they can choose from about 50 different items ranging from a penny chew up to a 14p bag of chocolate-coated peanuts. If they can twist their parents' arm, perhaps they can choose something more expensive, but like most of us they can only stand and drool at the 2lb boxes of chocolates on sale at £6 or more. The Robinsons used to keep boxes of up to 6lbs for sale, but increases in the cost of chocolate have taken such monster boxes out of the reach of the average person and Nesta and Robbie no longer stock them.
Another extremely popular line is the Lyons Maid 'Napoli' range of soft ice cream. Families quite often admit to making a detour through Lenton just so that they can sample one of those ices. Certainly few can have missed the giant ice-cream cone outside on the pavement advertising the cold delights to be had inside.
Other lines the Robinsons carry include crisps, biscuits, and soft drinks, but their second major source of sales is cigarettes. While they have kept as wide a range of confectionary as possible, they have been gradually reducing the number of different cigarette brands available. You can go in and ask for Dunhill International, Senior Service, Players Medium, Woodbines or Kensitas, but you won't get them, for these are all brands they no longer stock. You should, however, have no trouble obtaining a packet of Benson & Hedges, No.6 King Size, John Player Blue, or John Player Special, as these are their four best-selling brands. Ironically, Robbie and Nesta, themselves lifelong smokers, both gave up smoking last February. Robbie was sorely tempted to calm his nerves by lighting up again when Nesta went into hospital this July for her replacement hip operation, but he didn't succumb. At the time of writing, neither has reached for a packet from the shelf. Maybe it's having all those sweets around which they can suck that act as an alternative.