The strength and perseverance of our local community shops over the past year have been nothing short of incredible. Notion and Havana Club once again heard shopkeepers' stories.

Whether you’re stopping in for a pint of milk, loaf of bread, couple of cans, or even a bottle of Havana Club rum, we all know the smiling faces of our local corner shop workers. Many of us, however, don’t know their story. Havana Club wanted to change that, so Notion teamed up with them to go behind the counters of Britain’s offies and hear their stories.

The pandemic has hit businesses hard – especially small, independent businesses – and many are only starting to recover now. Whilst we hashtagged #ShopSmall and #ShopIndependent, pledging to spend our hard-earned cash with those who need it most, corner shops were arguably overlooked.


Stalwarts of our streets, the affectionately named ‘corner shops’ have been absolute pillars of British communities during the pandemic. Always on hand and open throughout our darkest times, they always had the essentials we craved. Toilet roll, kitchen supplies, weekend drinks, they had it all. You could always rely on the off-license.

As part of our ‘Talking Shop’ series, Notion met the owner of Smaa Food & Wines in the London area of Walthamstow. He told us that the past year had been a bumpy ride, saying that some weeks had been very good, others not as much. Nevertheless, he kept smiling thanks to his local customers who kept the shop afloat with their regular purchases.


He recalled how the shop became a hub of conversation with his customers, many of whom were eager to swap stories and exchange the latest news about Covid-19. “People want to talk and they want to find out what’s going on”, he told Notion.

After the year we’ve had, we need to remember how crucial our local shops have been for our livelihoods. The shopkeepers were always there to lend an ear or provide a kind smile, and hopefully, they will be for years to come. Long live the corner shop!


Go behind the counter and hear more from the owner of Smaa Food & Wines himself as he reflects on the past year.

Related Articles

Havana Club x Black Eats LDN: La’Mel Clarke

As part of a four-part series amplifying Black talent in the hospitality industry, Havana Club and Black Eats LDN spotlight bartender La'Mel Clarke.

Havana Club x Black Eats LDN: No Hice Bartender

Havana Club and Black Eats LDN spotlight Lucas Campbell, AKA The No Hice Bartender, in a series highlighting Black talent in the hospitality industry.

Go Behind the Scenes with Havana Club and Burna Boy

Partnering on a limited-edition bottle and accompanying video, take a look behind the scenes of Havana Club's latest collaboration with Burna Boy.