The best convenience shops in Jesmond
Justice 4 Lonsdale Stores
If you live in Jesmond and are bored of the same old Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose combo then maybe it’s time to switch it up.
It could be that you’re just looking for a drunk snack, refuelling the machine so you can power on through the night content with a Quavers-Yazoo-Galaxy cocktail nestling in your tummy. Perhaps your sweet tooth has been calling and those munchies need to be quelled.
Your local Jesmond newsagents could be the cheap, local, convenient option to satisfy your student cravings. Say no to the corporations, the mega-market giants, it’s time to give back to the community in the form of short change for sugary treats. We’ve scouted the area, picked out the best, and spoken with their owners to give you the low down on where to spend your pocket money.
First on the list is the South-East Jesmond favourite, R&K’s. Run by the friendly Peter and right on the corner of Manor House and Cavendish Road, R&K’s is a common stop for many a peckish student. Having been open for more than thirty years and right next to so many student digs, R&K’s is a common household name for many of us.
Open every day from 9.30am-10pm Peter runs a consistent convenience, so save your legs the trek to Tesco next time your belly rumbles and pop-in for a look-about. Turning up at ten to ten with a couple of quid and leaving with a handful of sweets is a regular habit for many.
When asked, Peter explained he had no time for hobbies, and that he’s too busy working all day to “keep the students of Jesmond happy.” The most popular items, unsurprisingly, are “fags, sweets and frozen pizzas”, and Peter is often amused by the “fresh-smelling” munchies zombies who slink around the shop, only to stare red-eyed at the crisps for ten minutes before leaving with some long-Riz and a Kinder Bueno.
Whether you’re heart is yearning for some Nik Naks or you’ve a thirst that can only be quenched by your favourite cheery Pepsi Max then Peter is the man for you. Say hello next time you’re shopping at R&K’s and spread some student friendliness to the community.
Take a left down Osbourne Avenue on your way back to Jesmond from the Robbo and about halfway down you’ll come to Mr V’s Food and Wine Store. Known also as Mr.Bump’s, this shop’s name is short and sweet, succinctly informing any inebriated students of its exact contents. The owner of this frequented mini-mart is called Mr.V, (no prizes if you guessed that already) and he was happy to answer a few questions about the retail life of a Jesmond convenience store.
Snooker fan and ex-player Mr.V is always friendly with his student customers, prying his eyes away from the riveting action of his in-store TV to supply us with whatever junk food we’re craving.
He says his most popular products, other than alcohol and cigarettes (seemingly the student staple), are Dr.Oetker frozen pizzas. If frozen pizzas aren’t your cup of tea then there’s a range of sweets, refrigerated goods, crisps, fruit, and drinks.
Next time you’re around Holly Ave in need of convenience shopping be sure to pop in, grab a samosa and scour over the wines. Mr.V’s is open till 11pm almost everyday and Mr.V said he only wishes the Newcastle students were here the whole year round.
Last, but definitely not least we have Lonsdale stores. This is not a shop that I am a regular at due to it’s location in West-Jes, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t dropped in on a few late-night munchies adventures. I am very grateful to have met and spoken with the owner, Umesh, a real gentleman and proud shop owner.
After talking to Umesh for a while we had quickly moved on from discussing deals, popular items, and general practicalities of the profession before embarking on a long discussion of the influence of supermarkets in Jesmond.
The small shop front tardisises when you enter, shelves full of everything from peanut butter to toilet roll, Umesh informed me that the premises had been a convenience store for over eighty years, being there himself for thirty two!
The shop was previously called William Lowes and was open daily till 5.30pm, nowadays it’s a different story with the local corporate competition forcing Umesh to stay open till 11pm, this includes Sundays which is a great marketing strategy as Tesco’s is shut by 4pm.
Umesh went on to describe passionately how supermarkets have been “brainwashing” people into thinking they should be the first port of call for everything, explaining correctly that places such as Granger Market in town has a huge variety of meat and vegetables for much cheaper prices than any supermarket.
He said he tries to make an effort with students, as he was formerly at uni himself, involved in entertainment management and organising gigs for fellow students. A few years previously, a house of girls living nearby went so far as to frame a picture of them all with Umesh in the shop and gave it to him when they finished university.
The picture still stands right by the register and is a reminder of the community spirit students can garner with their local shops.
He then told me a heart-warming story of a student who came into the shop asking to borrow a hammer to break into his house after leaving without his phone or keys. Umesh took it upon himself to call around the local locksmiths, working his way from a £200 quote to a £70 quote, before convincing the locksmith to drop the price further in lieu of the young lad’s situation. The student later told Umesh he had only been charged £40.
The main impression I got from this light-hearted conversation was the damaging effects which local supermarkets have had on small businesses in Jesmond.
He convincingly informed me of the various planning regulations Sainsbury’s has violated and the despair he feels at seeing students waste so much money by buying everything from the same shop. This particular convenience store stocks many student essentials at prices which undercut those we happily pay everyday in supermarkets.
With a Facebook page to showcase deals and a handy ShopLocally leaflet, you could easily save a few bob by shopping at Lonsdale Stores. Be sure to say hello to Umesh next time you pop in, but don’t mention Sainsbury’s lack of car parking unless you’ve got a free five minutes.