The Little Junk Shop

Clare Christopher

Postcard of the Little Junk Shop, with kind permission of Mary Smith
Jim and Mary having a laugh behind the counter. With kind permission of Mary Smith
Jim behind the counter. With kind permission of Mary Smith

The Little Junk Shop was a very popular shop on the corner of Greencroft Street and Salt Lane, run by Jim and Mary Smith.

The shop opened in 1960. At first it was just one room, but it then expanded back so there were three rooms in all. It sold coins, medals, china, records, tapes, dinky cars, other toys, lamps, cameras, unusual items and paperback books among many other things. As Mary remembers, “So it really was, as we said, a little junk shop.  We seemed to sell everything…”

Jim’s career as an author also meant that they sold his books,  which he used to autograph and draw pictures in for his fans.

The shop was frequented by all sorts of people – bikers, actors, schoolchildren, tourists, and it was sometimes more like a club than a shop. Jim delighted in mischief, making people laugh, and playing tricks with the stock. He was great with children, giving  gifts of dinky cars and telling them stories. ” Jim he loved making people laugh we had such a lot of fun and nobody ever took it badly… but it was always so many laughs I mean everybody loved coming in you know it was great fun.”

The shop closed in 1988 “…my husband had had a very severe stroke in ‘87 and I he was in a wheel chair and course I had to look after him but I kept the shop going because I thought maybe it would do him good to be able to get in and be with people but unfortunately it had taken his speech and he couldn’t talk to people and I had quite a lot of upset because people would look over the top of his head and say how is he and that made me very cross but I did  keep the shop going.  I often wonder how I managed it for eighteen months and then I had to give up because it was just too much.  “

The original fascia board, handpainted by Jim, was donated to Salisbury Museum. The shop is now the popular Ed Dibbles cafe – opposite the starting point for our Memory Walk.

Listen to Mary Smith talking about the shop by clicking on the audio button below her picture at the bottom of the page.

Do you have any memories of the Little Junk Shop to share with us? We would love to hear them!

Comments about this page

  • Loved what he sold. My first Psychology book – required pre reading for my Uni course. Plus a beautiful alabaster figurine. Wonderful shop and I lived just around the corner in St Edmunds Church Street – No 10

    By Chantel Jones (25/01/2024)
  • Good grief, it’s been a great trek to find any information on this man. I loved his books when I was a preschooler, and I sought them out on Amazon years later for my younger relatives. For years I tried to find out who the author was (which if the 100,000 Jim Smiths in the UK was he?) and then I find this. I can’t believe he ran an antiques store. I lived in the UK from 88-92, and I regret never getting to tell this man how much his books meant to me.

    By Ben (11/06/2023)
  • My Gran Lived next door to Jim and Mary just a few house along in Greencroft Street. I would love visiting from Kent and the first thing I would do on arrival would be to get along to The little junk shop and buy Biggles books and military items. Now many years later I have opened a Vintage shop in Brecon.

    By Jonathan Usher (06/11/2021)
  • Thanks for sharing your memory of Jim and Mary. Good luck with your shop!

    By Clare Christopher (06/11/2021)
  • I never had the pleasure of visiting the Little Junk Shop in person or in meeting Jim and Mary. I wish I’d had the opportunity. However, I did virtually visit often, more times than I can count, as I traveled the wonderful landscapes of Jim’s picture books, peeking through the doors (and walls!) of his towns. Very few storytellers are able to create full and perfect worlds. Jim was one of those few. And, to tell the truth, you’ll find in my own pictures of Mr Gruber’s shop a bit of the Little Junk Shop. Thank you, Jim.

    By R W Alley (21/05/2020)
  • Thanks for your brilliant comment, R W. How wonderful that Jim’s work has inspired your own illustrations!

    By Clare Christopher (09/07/2020)
  • Thank you for your lovely comment Joy. You are so right about Jim’s wonderful pictures, there is something new to see in them every time you look!

    By Clare Christopher (27/03/2020)
  • I had the pleasure with my late husband of meeting Jim and Mary. They were so lovely such friendly people. I was so sad on returning to the shop after Jim became ill i saw him the once then the shop was no more. He was no longer able to draw but over my visits i bought some illustrations and books. I still have 2 pictures which i have today brought down from the loft and put up in my lounge. These pictures everytime you look you will see something else. Jim had the ability to bring the animals and their surroundings to life. I couldnt bear to part with them. The mat on the picture was in the shop i remember and will never forget these people and their lovely shop.

    By joy jones (27/03/2020)

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