Calderdale shopkeeper who set up her business 50 years ago has no plans to retire - despite being 82

One of Britain’s longest-serving shopkeepers who has been supplying hikers and holidaymakers with goods for 50 years has no plans to retire - at the ripe age of 82.

By Ian Hirst
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 6:00 pm

May Stocks says her store remained an “essential part” of the local area after almost half a century of independent trading.

The great-grandmother said she had opened the grocery store in the mid-1970s after intrepid walkers kept asking to buy milk and eggs at her isolated farmhouse.

The shop - which sits close to a section of the famous Pennine Way trail - was built from empty storage shed and initially sold just a few essential items.

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May Stocks says her store in the Yorkshire Dales remained an essential part of the local area

But May has since completed two extensions, with her ‘Aladdin’s cave’ -style store now offering everything from fancy champagne to shampoo and chocolate.

May, who has lived in the tiny rural community of Heptonstall all her life, said the secret to running a successful rural business was loving a good conversation.

She said: “You want a lot of patience, and you’ve got to be able to converse with everybody. You just treat everybody alike, and it’s time-consuming, but I’ve enjoyed it because I like talking to people.

“The store is a hub where people know they can come if they want something or want to know something - it’s an essential part of the area.”

May has lived in the tiny rural community of Heptonstall all her life

May told her late husband Michael that she wanted to start up a shop after noticing a rise in young hikers asking for essential food at their farm.

She said: “It was just about the time the Pennine Way started, and walkers kept on coming up to the farm and saying 'You haven’t got any eggs? You haven’t got any milk?' I said to

Michael, 'I might as well open a shop' - and that’s how it started.

“Originally, we just sold milk and eggs and crisps and pop and ice cream, and things like that, and then it just grew from there."

May’s shop has now gone well beyond selling basic essentials and even rivals some small supermarkets in city centres.

She said: “We’ve got a good selection now of everything, and it’s gone beyond what we expected. Sometimes people will come here who don’t live around here, and they’ll say: 'I wish we had a shop like this!' It’s very well used.”

May said her clientele has changed dramatically over the years, and she has expanded to meet their evolving needs

She said: “When we started 50 years ago, you got the French, the Italians, the Germans – when they all finished college over there. It was a cheap holiday to walk The Pennine Way, but it's not cheap now – it’s expensive.

“People who are coming now are the middle-aged people. There are one or two young ones, but I’d say it’s people who are in their 50s and 60s.”

Despite the challenges of rural life - not least the bad weather - May said that she doesn’t think she’ll ever tire of her chosen occupation.

She said: “You prepare yourself in about November to get ready for bad weather, and you can survive then. But I never think I’ve had enough of this way of life. As long as I can keep healthy, which up to now I have been, I’ll continue.”