Blackley shop owners hailed as “backbone of the community”

  • Danish & Shital Patel have been praised for working 14-hour days through this pandemic to keep their community well stocked with all their basic needs
  • Unlike some stores, they've refused to raise prices for essentials like hand sanitiser and soap
  • They have run the store for 15 years and have become an integral and much loved part of the Blackley community.

Originally from India, Danish (39) and his English-born wife, Shital (40), have run their store in Blackley for 15 years. Formerly Aryans Convenience store, it’s now under the Go Local Extra chain.

What sets this pair out from the rest is their refusal to increase prices like many stores in the area, keeping the prices of things like hand soap and hand sanitiser at the original price before the global pandemic. Danish says: “I’m just doing my part for the community. Ramping up the price is just selfish.” 

Being key workers, the pair work 14 hours a day, waking up early for deliveries and staying up late restocking the store. 

Danish says opening every day and keeping the store regularly stocked is more challenging due to the pandemic: “Oh, definitely! The stock has been a lot harder to get a hold of and it’s been a lot busier. Things like hygiene products are a lot more in demand. But for us, it’s business as usual.” 

“We’ve been here for 15 years and we’re going to do what we’ve always done. It’s our job.”

With the pandemic, many changes have impacted small businesses. Danish says: “Every day customers are queuing up because of the two at a time rule. But even before this whole thing, it wasn’t this busy. We’ve had a lot more issues with people stealing as well. It’s just overall been a lot more tiring, very tiring.”

Locals has only positive words about the store. Liz Gibbons said: “They’re always open and have everything you need. You always see him taking stuff out the van every day and he always says ‘hi.’ Very friendly.”

Zoe Whittham said: “Oh, they’re so lovely. I get scared to even leave the house in these times. Hats off for keeping open every day.”

Finally, Steph Breen said: “Honestly they’re the backbone of the community right now.”

We asked the couple how they felt about being ‘the backbone of the community.’ 

Shital said: “It makes us feel appreciated. It means a lot to us, to feel so appreciated. Especially when we’re putting ourselves at risk staying open and being in contact with people every day.”

Danish added: “We’ve been here for 15 years and we’re going to do what we’ve always done. It’s our job.”

It is important in times like these to remember those who are working to keep communities going, whether that be the NHS staff, delivery drivers, supermarket staff or local stores.